Mr Kingsley Kuku, a former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Committee, has denied media reports that he fled the country to evade investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The Abuja Enquirer, an Abuja-based newspaper, had allegedly published the said story on pages 1 and 3 of its July 27-August 2, 2015, Vol. 11 No 7 ISSN. 1597 edition captioned ‘Kingsley Kuku Flees Nigeria.
Kuku in a suit filed before an FCT High Court marked CV/2634/15, dated August 19, a copy of which was obtained by the Street Journal on Sunday, also filed a N500 million libel suit against the newspaper and its publishers, Gazetta Communications Ltd, claiming that the story was libelous, false and defamatory.
The plaintiff claims in a 35-paragraphed statement of claim that he travelled out of Nigeria to the USA for a scheduled medical procedure at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center (LLC) Alabama en route London almost two months after the May 29 handover date.
Mr. Karina Tunyan, SAN, Kuku’s counsel, therefore, prayed the court to award the sum of N500 million general damages against the defendants for publishing the story, which he said was intended to paint him as a fugitive so as to expose him to public hatred and ridicule.
Tunyan is also seeking an order of the court compelling the defendants to render an unreserved apology to the plaintiff, retract the defamatory publication concerning the plaintiff and publish the apology/retraction in at least three national dailies including the Abuja Inquirer.
He is also urging the court to grant an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants and privies howsoever called, from further publishing any defamatory words or the same defamation against his client.
Kuku claims that he was in the USA when one of his associates, Mr. Ikantu Peretie, on July 27, called him on phone and informed him about the story contained in the front page of the defendants’ publication, following which he immediately opened and read it online.
Kuku also contended that he received “torrents of calls from friends and associates, expressing shock, disappointment and psychological outrage over the malicious publication.’’
The plaintiff also submitted that he instructed his lawyer to write a letter to the Weekly Newspaper seeking a retraction or written apology for the libelous story within three days, but the defendants ignored same.
“At no time did the EFCC or any other agency declare him wanted for fraud, theft or for any criminal embezzlement of funds running into hundreds of millions of Naira and millions of US dollars or whatever amount whatsoever.
“The libelous and malicious publication has occasioned serious incalculable damage to my client’s reputation and personality, as well as caused him great psychological trauma,” Kuku’s counsel submitted.
The plaintiff, however, admitted that the EFCC had through a letter dated July 22, 2015, and signed by one Olufunke Adetayo Ogunbode, Head Economic Governance, invited him to appear before it on July 28, for questioning over a case of conspiracy, stealing, diversion if public funds and abuse of office involving him.
Kuku further stated that the Director of Procurement in the Presidential Amnesty office, Mr. Jaiyeoba Tikolo, informed him about the invitation letter while he was already in London.
Upon receiving the information, Kuku said that he instructed his solicitors to inform the EFCC of his medical trip abroad and request for another date for the interview, adding that he would return to Nigeria and appear before it on September 30.
The suit has yet to be assigned to a judge for dtermination.