N2.5bn libel suit: Atiku files deposition against Buhari’s aide, Lauretta Onochie
Politics - • By Ebuka Nwanokwara
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday, appeared at the Maitama division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where he deposed an affidavit to support his N2.5bn libel suit which he filed against President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, earlier in June this year.
Atiku who was the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 elections had in June slammed a suit against Onochie for alleged libelious publication on her tweeter handle on May 7, 2017.
The alleged offensive tweet suggested that Atiku was on the watch list of security operatives in the United Arab Emirates and had travelled to shop for terrorists in the Middle East.
He prayed the court in the suit marked CV/2287/19, to order Onochie to pay him the N2.5bn as “general, aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages over the untold embarrassment, derision, public ridicule, odium, obloquy, marital disharmony, mental agony and psychological trauma which the defendant’s publications have caused the claimant.”
In one of the pictures, Atiku was seen seated while holding a pen above a white paper with Ozekhome bent over the table beside him.
In the caption accompanying the pictures, Ozekhome stated, “Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, today, at the Central Registry of the FCT, High Court, Maitama, Abuja, with his client, His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Waziri Adamawa.
Atiku who denied the allegations said it was “politically orchestrated” “solely to cause maximum damage” to his “high reputation” while challenging “the purported victory” of Onochie’s boss, President Buhari in the last presidential election at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The presidential candidate of the PDP in the February 23, 2019 poll had, through a May 14, 2019 letter signed by Ozekhome, demanded from Onochie an apology, a retraction of the said post and a payment of N500m compensation to him “to assuage” the damage allegedly done to him by her social media post.
He also threatened to sue her should she fail to accede to the demand “within 48 hours”.
Justifying his suit, Atiku stated in his statement of claim accompanying his suit, that rather than show “remorse by retracting her earlier publication”, she further, on May 20, made “another derogatory publication and also published same online in the social and other print media” against his person.”