Alhaji Atiku Abubakar Tuesday dragged the presidential aide on social media to President Muhammadu Buhari, Lauretta Onochie, to court over an alleged offensive publication against his person, claiming among others, the sum of N2.5bn as general, aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages.
Alhaji Atiku is claiming this sum for her alleged defamatory story published on her twitter handle and facebook page, in which she claimed that Atiku was on the UAE watch list, as a wanted man, asking, “shopping for terrorists?”
According to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2019 election, Onochie maligned his personality when she claimed that “I am 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 me not only in the UAE, but across the world.”
The suit filed by counsel to Atiku at the Federal High Court, Abuja, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, Tuesday, said that Onochie, maliciously alleged that: “I am depressed is accentuated by malice to further portray me as lacking the mental fitness to hold the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for which, I am challenging the defendant’s boss.”
He said Onochie made the baseless allegations sometime in May, 2019.
Atiku said while still in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a trip, Onochie on 7th day of May, 2019, through her twitter handle page at: https://twitter.com/Laurestar?
Atiku stated further: “That in the said defamatory publication against me made by the defendant on 7th May, 2019, the defendant amongst other baseless allegations, falsely and maliciously accused me of being on the watch list of Security Operatives in the United Arabs Emirates (UAE). The defendant further falsely accused me of shopping for terrorists in the Middle East, thereby portraying me as an evil man, mentor of terrorists, someone who has links with terrorists, and a person who is interested in destabilizing the peace and unity of Nigeria. The publication also portrayed me as a security threat and terrorist to right thinking members of the public and the society at large.
“That the baseless allegations which originated from defendant vide her tweet on the 7th day of May, 2019, was published by several newspapers nationwide and on several social media news blogs such as the Cable (available on https://www.thecable.ng/fact-
“That the defamatory words of the Defendant were carefully schemed and embarked ‘upon by the Defendant as a way of vendetta to denigrate, disgrace, embarrass humiliate, and subject me to inhuman and degrading treatment before right thinking members of the public and the society at large.
“The Defendant has vowed on several occasions, in her malicious publications vide the same medium to get at me at all cost.
The Defendant has no sense of remorse over the first publication of May 7, 2019, by twitter; hence she dared me with her second publication of May 20, 2019, on her facebook page.
“That further at all times relevant to the said publications, all the print, electronic and social media platforms had millions of readers and viewers, all of whom had free and open access to the words complained of.
“I state that large and unquantifiable number of users read, viewed and continues to read and view the published/released words of various print, electronic and social media platforms, as the stories will continue to render forever unless halted.
“Further, Defendant well knew that once she posted the said defamatory statements to various print, online and, electronic media, they would in turn publish them in their newspapers and on their website. These could, would and were indeed accessed by a substantial but unquantifiable number of readers and subscribers to other internet provider systems all over the world.
“The Defendant knew and intended that the statements would be so published and republished and such republication was the natural and probable consequence of the Defendant’s publications of the statements.
“That the Defendant published the words complained of recklessly and had no honest belief in the truth of the said words.
That after’ these defamatory publications by the Defendant, several people, both within and outside the country, who read the publications have called me and expressed their disappointment that they never knew that I was a man of dubious character and a sponsor of terrorists, despite my apparent sterling and distinguished career in the public sector and enviable achievements in the private sector. Some of them challenged me to sue the author of the publications to clear my name if I believed that the publications were false.
“That it is most uncharitable of the Defendant to disparage my reputation, who has done everything humanly possible to serve Nigeria and humanity with a view to alleviating poverty and unemployment in Nigeria and beyond.
“That I deserve accolades for my personal commitment and sacrifices by creating employment and alleviating poverty through the empowerment of the youths. I have made outstanding contributions to the development of our country and humanity for which I do not deserve to be insulted or vilified.
“I plead that my character, reputation, person, psyche, honour, dignity, being and all I have ever stood for in life, have been smeared, maligned, assaulted and denigrated, without any justifiable basis by the electronic messages vide twitter and facebook, and also published globally online in the social and other print media circulated around the World by the Defendant.
“That upon the receipt of the electronic messages vide twitter and facebook, containing the highly libelous statements, the contents have been the subject matter of discussion in my matrimonial home and amongst other persons who heard about them both within and outside the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“That unless restrained by an order of this Honourable court, the Defendant will continue to cause to be published, the same, or similar defamatory publications against me.
“Upon the afore pleaded premises, that I am entitled to punitive, exemplary and aggravated damages, as well as injunctive reliefs against the Defendant.”
Atiku was personally at the court to file witness deposition on Tuesday.