Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, the immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), has filed a defamation suit before an Abuja High Court against the National Vice-Chairman (South-South) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Cairo Ojougboh.
Anyim sued Ojougboh for alleged malicious publications in which he granted an interview published on page 3 of DailyTrust newspaper dated July 13, 2015, titled: “Jonathan’s Centenary City is Crime Personified”, and a story on page 15 of Thisday of July 18, 2015, captioned: “Ojougboh Alleges Ex-SGF Anyim Threatening His Life”.
The former SGF, who is a lawyer and one-time Senate President, joined an All Progressives Congress (APC) Chieftain, Mr. Timi Frank, as a co-defendant.
Anyim, through his counsel, Mr Mike Ozekhome (SAN) in the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2599/2015, via a writ of summons dated August 7, 2015 and obtained by the Street Journal on Monday, demanded for one billion naira from each of the duo as “general, aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages’’ over the publications and interviews granted by Ojougboh in which he alleged that the Centenary City Project was a scam.
Anyim’s counsel argued that the publications were “false, unfounded, baseless and constituted a figment of Ojougboh’s warped imagination.’’
He argued that the said publications were calculated to bring him to great disrepute and lower him in the estimation of right thinking and reasonable members of the public.
Ozekhome further submitted that the stories were maliciously concocted to frustrate the Centenary City Project, and in particular, to scare away foreign partners, as well as incite the investors and management of the Centenary City Project against him and lower him in their eyes.
He, therefore, sought, inter alia, an order of the court directing the defendants to pay him the sum of ₦1 billion each as “general, aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages over the embarrassment, public odium, derision, ridicule, obloquy, mental agony and psychological trauma,’’ which Ojougboh’s publications have caused him.
It would be recalled that Ojougboh had alleged in the Daily Trust interview that the Jonathan administration’s Centenary City Project was crime personified and the Centenary City built was a blueprint for corruption.
“Somebody within that office called the SGF had the impunity to tell Nigerians lies that the Centenary City is a Public Private Partnership arrangement; I mean it is a lie.
“In fact, a huge chunk of land was given to only one man and it didn’t stop there. He now went on to incorporate the entity as a free zone. Where have you ever seen it in this world? It is crime personified,” Ojougboh was quoted as saying in the interview.
In the Thisday publication, Ojougboh alleged that Anyim had threatened his life for blowing the whistle on his role in the corruption and fraud in the Abuja Centenary City Project.
Ojougboh said: “ I discovered multiple instances of corruption and fraud which were brought to my attention via petitions written by various anti-corruption Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and, in particular, the Nigerian Women Against Corruption regarding the Centenary City Project, having been an elaborate scam perpetrated by Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation.”
Ojougboh further alleged that he was forcefully removed from office as Chairman of the Board of Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority by Anyim for unraveling the allegation of fraud leveled against him.
The suit which was filed in the registry of the court has yet to be assigned to a judge and no date has been fixed for its mentioning.