Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has been sued at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory over alleged defamation of the person of President Muhammadu Buhari and his family.
The suit was filed by the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO).
In the suit brought by way of writ of summons, the BCO is praying the court to order Atiku and his party to pay N40 million damages for allegedly claiming that Buhari and members of his family own substantial shares in 9mobile and Keystone Bank.
The BCO is praying the court to order “specific damages against the defendants jointly and severally in the sum of N30, 000,000.00 as the total sum above listed as financial loss the plaintiffs incurred due to the wrongful, neglectful, and fraudulent acts of the defendants which forced the plaintiffs to spend to correct the wrong impression created in the minds of the members of the public due to the publication caused and published by the defendants”.
BCO further prayed for an order of the court “for the payment of the sum of N375, OOO.OO being incidental expenses and/or legal charges which the 1st plaintiff incurred in respect of this matter”.
The plaintiffs also sought for “general damages in the sum of N10,000,000,00 only jointly and severally against the defendants for the embarrassment, pain, and unnecessary financial loss suffered by the plaintiffs, most particularly the 1st plaintiff who is a public figure, an honourable presidential candidate and reputable gentleman to the core”.
In its witness statement on oath made by its Director of Communication and Strategic Planning, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, the BCO told the court that Atiku and his media aides engaged in a smear campaign of calumny against Buhari and his family by willfully allowing and sponsoring the said purported defamatory and image damaging statements made by the 1st defendant to be published by some newspapers to members of the public.
Ibrahim said, as such, President Buhari’s reputation had been greatly affected by undue diligence with regards to the authenticity of the information as it relates to the true ownership of the alleged companies which the 1st defendant on behalf and for the defendant falsely published in the newspapers for the consumption of the general public.
He said: “The 2nd defendant permitted and sponsored the 1st defendant, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, to make and publish defamatory and damaging statement against the 1st plaintiff in order for 2nd defendant to get undue advantage in terms of votes from members of the public more than the 1st plaintiff (Buhari), the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress.
“That the 2nd defendant who is a presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party hanged on this publications and using same on every campaign ground to smear the person of the 1st plaintiff to his supporters and other members of the public.
“That the 1st defendant as an agent to the 2nd defendant who is freely accessible to members of the public for patronage on behalf the 2nd defendant, has the duty to investigate any information/documents to be issued out either by words of mouth or publication to members of the public, most particularly where such information concerned a third party or any member of the public.”
“That the 1st defendant without investigating the authenticity of the purported defamatory information with intent to damage the reputation and integrity of the 1st plaintiff caused to be published in the newspapers. That the plaintiffs shall tender two daily newspapers the Vanguard and Punch Newspapers both dated 27th December, 2018 before the court during the hearing.
“That the 1st defendant, to investigate and to ascertain the true ownership of the Keystone Bank Plc and 9mobile Ltd (Etisalat) needed only to go to the Corporate Affairs Commission to find out whether the said companies truly belong to the 1st plaintiff before publishing that the companies were bought and owned by the 1st plaintiff, his family and friends in the purported publications.”