Prof. Abubakar Momoh
8th August 2013
Prince Dayo Adeyeye
Beside New Coca-Cola Depot
Along Ikere-Ekiti Road
RE: YOUR LIBELLOUS COMMENTS AND PUBLICATION CONCERNING AND IN RELATION TO PROFESSOR ABUBAKAR MOMOH IN SOME NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS OF 5THAUGUST 2013
We are solicitors to Professor Abubakar Momoh (hereinafter referred to as ‘our client’) and on whose behalf and instructions we write this letter.
Our client has shown to us copies of the Vanguard, Nigerian Compass and the Nigerian Tribune Newspapers of the 5th of August, 2013, and in particular portions of the said newspapers which contained unambiguous references to him. Specifically, our client has shown to us in the said newspapers, particularly the Vanguard at page 10, a story titled, ‘PDP Chieftain Alleges APC’s Infiltration of INEC’, where you said the following words concerning him, to wit:
“Momoh was one of the partisan elements disguised as Election Observers during the Ekiti State governorship rerun election in 2009, who were caught in Oye and Ifaki-Ekiti, with electoral materials.
“Momoh was caught alongside one ACN chieftain in Lagos State, who was then a Commissioner in the Lagos State Civil Service Commission, Fuad Oki and other chieftains of the party. When they were caught, already prepared election results were found on them with telephone contacts of top leaders of the defunct ACN.”
“Prof. Momoh was also one of the witnesses of the ACN candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, current Governor of Ekiti State at the election tribunal.
“He (Momoh) had also served on the Board of Governor Fayemi’s Non-Governmental Organisation, the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD.
“Therefore, with such a personality now given a prominent position in INEC, his disposition and extent of the compromising capability in any electoral contest, especially the 2014 governorship election in Ekiti and Osun states, involving the opposition parties, can better be imagined.”
You had earlier been reported in the same media as having alerted Nigerians in a release of alleged infiltration of INEC by elements loyal to the All Progressive Congress, APC as your reaction to the nomination of our client as the Director General of the Electoral Institute of INEC.
These words which you wrote concerning our client meant and were understood to mean that our client is a dishonest person who pretends to be non-partisan as a leading and key scholar and public intellectual in Nigeria whereas he is blatantly partisan and that he was a member of the defunct ACN. Furthermore, the words meant that our client is a criminal who falsifies or aids in the falsification of election results thus thwarting the wish of the Nigerian electorate contrary to his well-known and published views on the sanctity of the ballot.
Your deliberate choice of words were therefore intended to portray our client as a liar or as an ignoble, dishonest, unreliable and irresponsible person who gave an impression that he was opposed to the rigging of elections in Nigeria but was nevertheless one of the perpetrators of electoral infamy. Perhaps more devastating to our client’s solid reputation is the imputation in your statement that he is being positioned to compromise the forthcoming elections in Ekiti and Osun States in 2014.
The innuendo that our client is an ignoble criminal and violator of the will of the people who is unworthy of occupying a public office is inescapable upon a deep reading of the phrase his disposition and extent of the compromising capability in any electoral contest and such words or phrases contained in the newspapers which were used in relation to our client.
We have been told by our client, and we have no reason to disbelieve him, that all the allegations made against him in the aforesaid newspapers are false in all material particular and deliberately calculated to bring our client to odium and disrepute before right thinking members of the public generally. Our client has assured us that the words were published by you for political gain in the said newspapers which circulate across Nigeria.
Our client is certain that you have no reasonable or probable cause to believe the damaging allegations you made concerning him. This is clear given the fact that you know him to be fiercely non-partisan and that he is a political scientist that has been at the forefront of electoral equity and transparency in Nigeria.
Consequent upon the innuendoes and allegations contained in the newspapers aforesaid against our client, he has been exposed to so much hatred, contempt and ridicule and has been injured in his trade and profession. Indeed he has received several calls from friends and well-wishers, a number of who expressed their outrage that he could be involved in the sordid act of being found in possession of falsified election results while claiming to them openly that he is opposed to electoral brigandage and rigging.
As a matter of fact it was one of his colleagues who bought the newspapers in Abuja that called his attention to the libelous publication. Indeed he has been made the subject of internet pillory as a result of your baseless and mendacious allegations in the said newspaper publications.
As a highly respected public intellectual and social activist who became a professor of political science in 2006 after joining the Lagos State University as an Assistant Lecturer in June 1988, facts well-known to you, our client has been wantonly and unjustifiably traumatised by your malicious and damaging allegations.
In the circumstances, we have our client’s firm instructions to demand, and we hereby so do, that you cause to be written and circulated in conspicuous segments of the Vanguard, Nigerian Compass and the Nigerian Tribune, three newspapers circulating all over Nigeria a retraction of the malicious allegations and an unqualified apology within 14 days of your receiving this letter.
In addition we demand that you pay to our client the sum of N20,000,000.00 as compensation for the libel contained in newspapers. Our client will not fold his arms and allow the tarnishing of his hard earned reputation and image that he has spent his entire working career and life to build.
TAKE NOTICE that if after the expiration of the stated dead-line the compensation has not been paid and the apology has not been published in the manner earlier indicated, howbeit not later than the 26thof August, 2013, we have his firm instructions to institute legal action against you for the malicious defamation of his character. We have no doubt that a court of law and of equity will most certainly visit the unwarranted imputations against our client with heavy and punitive damages. In this era of democracy everyone must justly earn his or her reputation.
Our law firm is committed to seeing to that with unwavering commitment and vehemence. The fact that one is privileged to speak to journalists is not a licence for reckless maligning of innocent and reputable, decent persons. On the contrary, highly placed personalities in the society have the added responsibility to weigh their words and choose their actions lest they injure needlessly and groundlessly the reputation of others which has taken them no less pains to build as well.
We have no doubt that you will accede to this very friendly request.
Bamidele Aturu Esq.
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