by Ben Ezeamalu
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and the Vice Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress has issued a seven-day ultimatum to Femi Fani-Kayode to apologize over his “defamatory statements” against him.
In a letter dated February 28 addressed to Mr. Fani-Kayode, who is the Director of Media and Publicity of the Peoples’ Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organization, Mr. Osinbajo demanded N2 billion as damages.
He also demanded an immediate retraction of the “offensive and derogatory” publication and an apology on four Television channels and national newspapers.
“Be advised that if we do not receive your formal retraction and apology and damages as demanded within seven days of receipt hereof, we shall proceed with our client’s instructions to seek appropriate legal remedies for your publication and dissemination of defamatory statements,” Mr. Osinbajo wrote, through his lawyer, Femi Falana, also a senior advocate.
Last Friday, Mr. Fani-Kayode, a lawyer, had convened a press conference in Abuja where he alleged that the APC’s vice presidential candidate had sworn an oath to vacate his seat should the party win the forthcoming election.
According to Mr. Fani-Kayode, Bola Tinubu, the APC’s National Leader, had nominated Mr. Osinbajo as part of “plans to come to power through the back door”.
“Tinubu, according to our information, has compelled Osinbajo to swear to an oath that after six months in office, he would resign as the vice president, in the unlikely event that their party wins,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said in his press statement titled ‘APC is Selling a Dummy to the Whole World; Tinubu is the Real Candidate.’
“The wicked plot, as laid out by them, is to force Osinbajo to resign for Tinubu to be nominated by Buhari as his replacement.”
Mr. Falana said that the statement, wherein he labelled Mr. Osinbajo as Mr. Tinubu’s ‘stooge,’ hurt the vice presidential candidate having been disseminated to millions of TV viewers, including on print and online media.
“As it were, the statement has now been published and circulated to an undetermined number of people in Nigeria, and internationally outside Nigeria,” Mr. Falana said.
“The direct meaning, imputation, purport and/or innuendo or insinuation of the false, misleading and defamatory statements is that: ‘Professor Osinbajo is deceitful. Essentially, you alleged that his motivation and pledge to serve as Vice President of Nigeria is inconsistent with his avowed desire to serve this nation with General Buhari, and work assiduously to deliver the benefits of his commitment, party and personal promises to the people.’
“Your characterization of Professor Osinbajo as a ‘stooge’ in context suggests that he is complicit in a fraud against the Nigerian people.”
Mr. Falana further said that Mr. Fani-Kayode’s statements imply that his client lacks integrity and had engaged in a conduct incompatible with his faith and ethics as a pastor and respected lawyer.
“It is clear that the entire publication was a vicious, wicked and reckless ploy to impugn the reputation of our client and lower him in the estimation of right thinking members of the public,” Mr. Falana added.
On Monday, Mr. Tinubu had threatened to sue the owners of African Independent Television, AIT, for airing a documentary he deemed defamatory “in all respects.”
The hour-long documentary titled ‘Unmasking the Real Tinubu,’ which is still airing on the TV station, showcased various properties and companies across Lagos purportedly owned by Mr. Tinubu, described as “Nigeria’s biggest landlord.”
It also depicted the APC leader as power-drunk and claimed he was “charged for narcotics” in 1993 in the United States.
Mr. Tinubu gave Daar Communications Limited, the owners of the TV station, 24 hours to apologize and retract the publication.
He also demanded N20 billion as damages.