Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo sues Punch newspaper and columnist, Sonala Olumhense, 1 billion naira over a publication on January 27, 2019 which he claims is defamatory.
Obasanjo presented the case at a federal high court in Abuja and he demanded N1 billion, insisting that the article was “false, malicious, unjustified, injurious, scornful, distasteful, unsavoury,” and exposed him to “public odium, ridicule and disdain.”
The article being referred to was titled; “This is the Best Contribution Obasanjo Can Make.” In the article, the columnist reminded Nigerians that the former president was not “the saint or patriot or doer he pretends to be.”
See excerpts below
“Obasanjo was no anti-corruption champion either, although nobody harangues corruption better than he. Yes, he launched the EFCC and ICPC, but they fought only the fights he allowed them to and wrote the reports he wanted. His real motivation was the largely retaliatory drive to recover the so-called (Sani) Abacha loot against the man who had thrown him behind bars. In the end, he could not account for the billions of dollars recovered.”
“So abominable was Obasanjo’s performance on electricity that he lavished at least $10 billion he could not justify. The House of Representatives said Obasanjo often paid money to companies that had not cleared space for the projects.
“In an article in December 2006, I demonstrated that he spent close to N1 trillion on roads. In December 2013, using one of those roads, I explored how the practice of persistent parallel spending keeps the money flowing but not project delivery.”
Obasanjo is also complaining that Olumhense alleges that he was “heavily implicated in the Halliburton scandal with the investigations in Nigeria and the US concluding that he accepted massive bribes,” among other allegations.
As a form of legal compensation, former president, has also urged the court to declare that the article does not “constitute a valid exercise by the defendants of their freedom of speech and of expression,” this he did through his lawyer, Kanu Agabi.
The 83 year old also craves an order of perpetual injunction
“restraining the defendants their associates, agents, assignees, servants, privies, proxies, allies or anyone howsoever called from further publishing or causing to be published the words complained of or any other defamatory words concerning the claimant.”
Obasanjo prayed the court to issue an order directing the defendants to retract the
“defamatory words via a publication on the front page of two national newspapers within three days from the day of the delivery of the judgment of the court.”
Human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, is expected to represent Olumhense in court.