Alleged libel: Atiku demands N500m, written apology from Buhari’s Aide, Onochie

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

#TrackNigeria: Former vice President of Nigeria and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has demanded N500 million from Lauretta Onoche, Social Media Aide to President Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly “spreading lies capable of damaging” his reputation.

In a letter signed by Atiku’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and addressed to Onoche, a copy of which was made available to Newsdiaryonline on Sunday, Atiku also asked for a written apology from her for her post on Twitter, claiming that Atiku was on the security watch list in the United Arabs Emirate (UAE).

Onochie, through a tweeter handle, @Lautestar on May 7 stated that the former vice-president was on a UAE watch list.

“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?” she tweeted @Laurestar.

Reacting in the letter however, Atiku denied being on any watch list and also challenged Onochie to prove her allegation.

While threatening to commence a N2 billion suit against her if she did not meet his demands, he also asked Onochie to publish a retraction in six national newspapers and one international daily as well as on social media.

“Your odious publication is clearly also aimed at rubbishing our client’s image and reputation. It has caused him national and international backlash and embarrassment and done incalculable damage to him.

“Your publication has also caused our client, in the eyes of reasonable members of the public, unspeakable odium, obloquy, hatred, ridicule and psychological trauma.

“He has thereby been subjected to the shame and infamy of being viewed by members of the public as not only corrupt, but as a terrorist and sponsor of terrorism.

“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 in the last few days attest to the alarm and serious concerns generated by your false publication.

“We have our client’s instructions to demand and we hereby demand from you the following: That you publish and tender a written retraction and apology for the said libellous publication in six national dailies circulating in Nigeria and one international daily as well as on all social media platforms wherein the said publication was made.

“That you pay to our client through the firm, the sum of N500,000,000 only, representing minimal damages to assuage his already battered image wholly caused by your said defamatory publication.

“Take notice that if you fail or refuse to accede to our modest demands within the next 48 hours from the date of this letter, we shall be compelled to activate the full weight of the legal machinery against you without any further recourse to you.

“We shall be, in such a suit, claiming against you the sum of N2 billion, representing exemplary aggravated and punitive damages,” the letter read in parts.

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