Obasanjo Sues Punch, Columnist for N1bn Over “Defamatory Words”

Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo has filed a lawsuit against Punch Newspaper and its columnist Sonala Olumhense for alleged defamation on a January 27, 2019 post.

Obasanjo, through his lawyer Kanu Agabi is seeking N1billion as damages from the newspaper and columnist. He described the article as “false, malicious, unjustified, injurious, scornful, distasteful, unsavoury,” saying it exposed him to “public odium, ridicule and disdain.”

According to Premium Times, Obasanjo said the article does not “constitute a valid exercise by the defendants of their freedom of speech and of expression.”

Olumhense in the article titled “This is the Best Contribution Obasanjo Can Make,” noted Obasanjo’s “persistent efforts to distort Nigeria’s history and colour it in his own image.”

Obasanjo’s not “the saint or patriot or doer he pretends to be,” Olumhese, who is expected to be represented by Femi Falana, wrote.

The columnist wrote:

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. At 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 seeking an order “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 also wants 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.”

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