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AIT absolves self of blame over documentary on Tinubu




•Dokpesi, others to testify in suit

THE African Independent Television (AIT) has absolved itself of blame in the documentary it aired on the former Lagos Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Also , the founder of AIT, Chief Raymond Dokpesi and seven others have been listed as witnesses to testify in a N150 billion libel suit filed by Tinubu, against the television station.

Others listed to testify against Tinubu are Namure Joy Edoimioya, Chief Medan Tenke, Ajibola Adewusi, Olumide Idowu, Chief Stanley Odidi, Nwabueze and Dr. Stanley Bassey.

Tinubu had filed N150 billion libel suit against AIT before a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja for alleged false accusations about his personality in the documentary titled “Lion of Bourdillion”

He alleged that the documentary was politically sponsored to tarnish his reputation.

Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe had on April 1, 2015 granted an interlocutory injunction restraining the AIT from further airing the documentary, pending the determination of the libel suit.

AIT in its statement of defence and counter-claim, denied each and every allegation of facts as contained in the Claimant’s Amended Statement of Claim.

AIT stated that Tinubu (defendant) claims is based on a non existent ground or cause of action noting that the documentary aired by it was not titled “The Lion of Bourilon”, but “Unmasking the Real Tinubu”.

Also, AIT averred that the documentary, in its honest opinion, was not false and neither was aired out of malice to the person of the claimant.

It argued further that as the Fourth Estate of the realm, it is empowered by Section 22 of the Constitution to at all times, hold those in government accountable and responsible to the people of Nigeria.

The defendant avers that further to paragraphs 4 and 5 above, that it is empowered by Section 22 of the Constitution as the Fourth Estate of the realm, to at all times, hold those in government accountable and responsible to the people of Nigeria, and to be free to uphold the Fundamental Objectives contained in Chapter 2 of the Constitution.

Others are, to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people to ensure that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group, and that there is equal opportunity for every Nigerian to secure adequate means of livelihood and empowerment without discrimination.

The defendant added that the Claimant is a former public office holder whose activities before, during and after leaving office are always in the public domain for proper scrutiny, in accordance with the intendment of the framers of the Nigerian Constitution.

The defendant also stated that being in the business of information dissemination, it is aware that the contents of the said documentary are not news to many Nigerians, a fact very well known to the Claimant, who took no steps to correct the information embedded in the print media and the social media platforms for years. For example, the pseudonym, “Lion of Bourdillon”, by which the Claimant has come to be known, addressed and associated with, over the years, was not given to him, or coined by the defendant”, it averred.

According to the television station, the said documentary, which it did not author, was only aired for a given short period of time and was last aired on March 6, 2015, when it got wind that the defendant had filed a libel suit.

Also attached to the filed statement of defence and counter-claim was a list of documents to be relied on which comprises links to online publications.

He said the documentary aired by the defendant under Section 22 of the Constitution merely states that the claimant (Tinubu) has breached some portions of the said fundamental objectives, and directive principles of state policy contained in Chapter 2 of the Constitution, which the defendant, amongst others, is legally mandated to ensure the observance of, and same was not maliciously or falsely made against the claimant.

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