A former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has carried out his threat to sue President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, for her alleged libellous tweet via her Twitter handle on May 7, 2019.
The post allegedly suggested that Atiku was on the watch list of security operatives in the United Arab Emirates and had travelled to shop for terrorists in the Middle East.
Atiku, through his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), filed a N2.5bn suit against Onochie before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja on June 26.
“To say that the claimant is shopping for terrorists knowing same to be untrue and without any foundation is not only dishonest and reckless, but is calculated and politically designed to instigate security agents against him not only in the UAE, but across the world,” he stated in his statement of claim accompanying the suit.
Denying the allegations contained in the said tweet, Atiku said the tweet was “politically orchestrated” solely to cause maximum damage” to his “high reputation” while challenging “the purported victory” of Onochie’s boss, President Buhari in the last presidential election at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 23, 2019 poll had in a May 14, 2019 letter, demanded an apology, retraction and payment of N500m 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.
He said sometimes in May this year, he had embarked on a foreign trip to the UAE as he had done over the years, and while on the said trip, Onochie on May 7, 2019, wrote, through her twitter handle:
“Atiku on UAE watchlist- Security sources Security operatives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are keeping a close tab on a former Nigerian Vice Pres Atiku Abubakar who has been in the Middle East nation for several weeks now What is he doing there? Me: Shopping for Terrorists?”
The claimant said “the defamatory publication” was also published by several newspapers nationwide and on several social media news.
He denied the allegations contained in the said publication which he described as “a figment of the imagination of the defendant”, but said it portrayed him “as an evil man, mentor of terrorists, someone who has links with terrorists, and a person who is interested in destabilising the peace and unity of Nigeria”.
“The publication also portrayed the claimant as a security threat and terrorist to right thinking members of the public and the society at large,” the former Vice-President added.
He noted that “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.
Igbo Youths Task PDP, APC On Presidency
The umbrella group of youth leaders in the South East geopolitical zone, under the umbrella of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) has said that it is either the presidency for the Zone in 2023 or nothing.
The group emphatically demanded that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, should cede the presidency to the South East zone in 2023 at the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The youth coalition warned that refusal of any big political party to zone the presidency to the South East in 2023 simply means swimming against the tide of the curriculum of democracy in Nigeria.
This was contained in a statement issued by the President-General of the group, Chief Goodluck Ibem, and made available to newsmen in Umuahia on Saturday.
The Coalition warned that those clamouring for the North to take the presidency after eight years of Buhari’s presidency, are not patriotic, but place their personal gain and aggrandisement above the survival, progress and success of the country.
The youth leaders maintained that the zoning arrangement was borne out of doctrine of necessity designed as democracy bond with the sole objective of creating a sense of belonging, harmony, happiness, peace and unity for our dear country Nigeria.
The statement added, “Zoning of the presidency has its moral weight. Zoning of the office of the president to the South East in 2023 is very important to preserve the corporate entity of Nigeria and also calm down political tension.
Police Have Abandoned Duty For Political Thuggery – PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Kogi State has warned against looming anarchy in the state, saying police authority has left its duty post for political thuggery, intimidation of electorate by the State government and APC.
Deputy Director of Public Communications of the PDP in Kogi State Campaign Council, Austin Usman Okai in a press statement on Sunday said the state Commissioner of Police has refused to stop the rising political thuggery and intimidation of electorate by APC thugs in the state.
Okai alleged that the State Commissioner of Police was giving technical support to the All Progressives Congress, APC, political thugs in the state, which has made them untouchable for security agencies despite glaring evidences of violence against them.
The council called on Police authority, Departments of State Security to call the outgoing governor of Kogi State to order, stating that, “nobody has monopoly of violence but in PDP we believe in peace.”
“No amount of gun importation into Kogi State will make Bello popular, we warned that we will not continue running for help, and we must not be pushed into self defense as that will amount to anarchy, if police failed, we will protect ourselves, the IGP must guarantee our safety as we will not fold our hands and watch some APC government officials intimidate us using police and SARS.
“In Dekina local government, the government officials have contracted some boys whose responsibility is to go after our candidate posters and billboards, the boys are armed in Sienna buses and guns, the police are aware of their activities but decided to look the other sides, while the thugs are boasting they have police and nothing will happen.
Okai also expressed worries over the level of sporadic gunshots across Abejukolo the headquarters of Omala local government area of the state, stressing that activities of the local government administrator, Hon. Aboh in sponsoring thuggery activities against the main opposition party, PDP, under the guise of electioneering campaigns needs to be checked.
He noted that the LG administrator has contracted miscreants fully armed who move in Siena and Sharon buses across the entire local government to create panic, among members of opposition political parties in the area.
“Honourable Aboh is known to be harbouring hoodlums under the cover of vigilante group, but their main mission is to attack the PDP members and their families in the local government.”
He said the decision to start now is to create uneasy calm, instill fears into the electorate and supporters of PDP from the local government under the supervision of the state government.
“This ugly trend has also spread to Olamaboro Local Government where the coordinator of PDP in the local government, Enefola Charles Agada and his family have been harrassed severally, his properties destroyed and other members of the party chased out of the area”.
“This developement is expected to go round the local government as the election draws nearer,not for anything, but to ensure PDP members are chased out of their homes on the instructions of APC leaders who are viewing the election as a war.
He called on security agencies in Kogi to without further delay address the issue of thuggery from the ruling APC government in the state, noting that the APC’s only strategy in winning the election is to instill fear in the minds of the people not to come and vote in next month’s election.
“The APC have devised several means to spread to other local government areas of Kogi East to ensure voters particularly PDP supporters and sympathizers are not allowed to come out to vote.”
Ekiti PDP Disowns Members Urging Boycott Of LG Poll
Ekiti State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), on Sunday, declared its readiness to participate in the forthcoming local government elections scheduled for December 7.
In a statement by the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Jackson Adebayo in Ado Ekiti, PDP maintained that there was no amount of shenanigan that would stop the party from its resolve to participate in the election.
This position has also been corroborated by all the 16 Local Government Chairmen of the party in the state as the party threatens to brand members working secretly against its interest as rebels, with appropriate sanctions awaiting them.
The party described its members calling for boycott as fifth columnists working for the ruling APC.
“We are aware of some fifth columnists among us who, perhaps, are working in collaboration with APC to stop PDP from participation in the election due to public opinions that favours us.
“It is not unusual for some members to want to play fifth columnist in any political party, but whenever such action is established, it would be naturally treated as an anti-party activity
“We therefore call on all our members to ignore the ranting of some individuals against our participation in the council election.
“Rather, we should concentrate our energy on strategies that can win the election for us instead of allowing some black agents to plant distractions in the party,’’ he said.
Adebayo, who said that apart from the decision of the State Executive Committee of the Party to participate in the election, the State Working Committee (SWC) had also been up and doing in preparation for the election.
According to him, all necessary forms had been obtained by candidates while the party has concluded all documentation at the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) and only waiting for substitution if any need arises.
The PDP spokesman also explained that the party had put some mechanisms in place to ensure unity in the party which informed why imposition of any form was not allowed in the primaries of the candidates of the party.
The PDP state Chairman, Chief Gboyega Oguntuwase, in an interview confirmed the stand of the party.
“The position of the extended EXCO and the SWC, with all party chairmen of all the local governments remains same.
“We met and we discussed extensively on what the PDP should do concerning the local government election.
“We all resolved that, in the overriding interest of the party, so that there will be activity in the party, so that Ekiti people will have option, so that the fundamental provision of the constitution that we all have right to vote and be voted for would not be blotted out by unnecessary emotions and sabotage, we should participate in the elections.
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