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Buratai demands apology, retraction from SaharaReporters over links to N1.85b loot

By Guardian Nigeria
12 July 2022   |   3:31 am
Former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai (rtd), has threatened to sue SaharaReporters over a report linking him with the re-looting of N1.85 billion.

[FILES] Buratai

Former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai (rtd), has threatened to sue SaharaReporters over a report linking him with the re-looting of N1.85 billion.

The former COAS, now Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, demanded a retraction and apology from the online medium over the June 23, 2022 report.

Buratai, in a letter dated July 8, 2022 by his lawyer, Dr. Reuben Atabo (SAN), said the news that the fund recovered by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) was discovered in his Abuja property, as published by SaharaReporters, was false.

He said the report was capable of inciting hatred and attack against him by the public, adding that the publication ridiculed him as a man “without honour, dignity and incapable of representing Nigeria.”

The letter reads: “Tukur Buratai is hereinafter referred to as ‘our Client’ on whose firm instruction and authority we write you. We refer to your publication dated June 23, 2022 with the caption, ‘EXCLUSIVE: Anti-graft Agency, ICPC, Uncovers Billion of Cash Meant for Arms, Ammunition To Fight Boko Haram in Abuja Home of Ex-Chief of Army Staff, Buratai’.

“In the said publication, you alleged that ICPC had recovered N1.85 billion from a house and office said to belong to our client. It was further reported by you that ‘the huge cash was part of the billions of Naira earmarked for the purchase of arms and ammunition by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government.”

According to the letter, there is no doubt that Nigerians are seriously concerned about the security situation of the country, and the said publication has portrayed Buratai as a person responsible for diversion of funds meant for the fight against terrorism.

It added: “Consequently, our client has been exposed to hate, ridicule and embarrassment from members of the public with his friends calling him from different parts of the world to ask for explanation.

“The publication is not only false but malicious and an attempt to malign the reputation of our client. Our client, who is the current Ambassador to Benin Republic, rose through the ranks and became a Lieutenant General in the Nigerian Army before his retirement in 2021. Our client, who was also COAS from July 2015 to 2021, has taken the battle against insurgency to the field with enormous energy and resources as well as loss of field officers.”

“By your publication, our Client has been ridiculed as a man without honour, dignity and incapable of representing Nigeria and portrayed as a fraudster/dishonest person before Nigerians and the international community. 

“We hereby demand that you retract your publication with a public apology to our Client within seven days of receiving this letter and a public apology to be published in two national dailies in Nigeria.

“Take notice that if you fall, neglect and/or refuse to publish the apology within seven days from today, we shall not hesitate to commence legal action against your organisation for defamation. It is hoped that you would comply to avoid the unpleasantness of litigation and its attendant consequences.”