Obasanjo sues Punch for defamation of character
Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has sued The Punch Newspapers and its columnist Sonala Olumhense for defamation of character.
The publication was published January 27, 2019 and considered defamatory, injurious, false, malicious, unjustified and harmful to the former president who is demanding N1 billion from the newspaper and columnist.
According to the report, Olumhense titled the article “This is the best Obasanjo can make”, noting Obasanjo’s persistent efforts to distort Nigeria’s history and colour it in his own image.
He also wrote that Obasanjo isn’t the saint or patriot people perceived him to be.
“Obasanjo was no anti-corruption champion either, although nobody harangues corruption better than he. Yes, he launched the EFCC and ICPC, but they fought only the fights he allowed them to and wrote the reports he wanted.
“His real motivation was the largely retaliatory drive to recover the so-called (Sani) Abacha loot against the man who had thrown him behind bars.
“At the end, he could not account for the billions of dollars recovered.” The article reads.
Olumhense berated the former president’s performance on the issue of electricity and accused him of keeping the money for his selfish interest.
“So abominable was Obasanjo’s performance on electricity that he lavished at least $10 billion he could not justify. The House of Representatives said Obasanjo often paid money to companies that had not cleared space for the projects,” Olumhense wrote.
The writer also referred back to 2006 and 2013 where the former president spent trillions of naira on roads and accused him of money he kept spending after that.
“In an article in December 2006, I demonstrated that he spent close to N1 trillion on roads. In December 2013, using one of those roads, I explored how the practice of persistent parallel spending keeps the money flowing but not project delivery.”
However, Obasanjo is seeking legal redress through his lawyer, Kanu Agabi who has asked the court to take action.
According to Obasanjo’s counsel, he said just because the constitution back their press freedom does not give them the right to defame anyone.
“The article does not constitute a valid exercise by the defendants of their freedom of speech and of expression.” Agabi said.
He also asked for an injunction order against the defendants associates, agents, assignees, servants, privies, proxies, allies or anyone howsoever called from further publishing or causing to be published the words complained of or any other defamatory words concerning the claimant.
Obasanjo requested the court to issue an order forcing the defendants to retract the “defamatory words via a publication on the front page of two national newspapers within three days from the day of the delivery of the judgment of the court.”
Human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, is expected to represent Olumhense in court.
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