Alex Enumah in Abuja
Former vice-president and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has slammed an aide to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, with a whooping N2.5 billion defamation suit.
The court action was necessitated by the refusal of Onochie to retract the said malicious publication in her tweeter handle on May 7, this year.
The suit marked CV/2287/19 and filed in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, is among others seeking a declaration by the court that the publications made by Onochie via her social media accounts on May 7 and May 20, 2019, “are utterly false, baseless, unfounded and defamatory of the claimant, and injurious to his reputation”.
Consequently, Atiku is seeking an order of court compelling the defendant to make a retraction of, and an apology to him “for the said offensive twitter and facebook publications on the same platforms, also to be published in three national newspapers with wide circulation within the country and also broadcast on AIT, Channels and NTA television stations”.
He also sought an order compelling her to write to him, “a letter of unreserved apology for the said offensive twitter and facebook publications”.
The claimant also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining her whether by herself, her servants, agents, privies, assigns, friends and/or representatives, or otherwise howsoever, from further posting such “offensive and libelous material or any other form of defamatory statements against his person”.
He asked for an order directing the defendant to pay him “the sum of N2,500,000,000,000 “representing general, aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages over the untold embarrassment, derision, public ridicule, odium, obloquy, marital disharmony, mental agony and psychological trauma which the defendant’s publications have caused the claimant”.
Onochie had in her post allegedly suggested that Atiku was on the watch list of security operatives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and had travelled to shop for terrorists in the Middle East.
The said malicious publication, according to Atiku’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who filed the N2.5 billion suit against Onochie, portrayed the claimant as a security threat and terrorist to right thinking members of the public and the society at large.
“The odious publication has clearly rubbished the claimant’s image and reputation. It has caused him national and international backlash and embarrassment and has done incalculable damage to him,” he said.
He said as a result of the said publication, Atiku had received numerous telephone calls, emails, visits, letters and private social media chats by his family members, friends, political and business associates, and international statesmen and women, confirming “the alarm and serious concerns generated by the defendant’s false publication”.
The claimant said he would tender the call logs showing the text messages, and calls received by him in the aftermath of Onochie’s post.
Atiku had on May 14, 2019 in a letter, demanded an apology, retraction and payment of N500 million compensation from Onochie “to assuage” the damage allegedly caused him by her social media post.
He also threatened to sue her should she fail to accede to the demand “within 48 hours”.
Alleging that Onochie was unmoved by his demand letter, Atiku, in his statement of claim accompanying his suit, stated that rather than show “remorse by retracting her earlier publication”, she further, on May 20, made “another derogatory publication and also published same globally online in the social and other print media” against his person.