The flag bearer of the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has approached a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, demanding it to bar President Muhammadu Buhari and security agencies in the country from interfering with the 2019 general elections.
Atiku, further asked the court to compel President Buhari to pay him damages in the aggregate sum of N2billion, as well as tender a public apology to him, for sponsoring frivolous suits against him. The demands were contained in a counter-claim the PDP presidential candidate filed in response to a N40million libel suit the Buhari Campaign Organisation, BCO, slammed against him over an allegation that he defamed President Buhari and his family. The BCO had in its suit marked FCT/HC/CV/ 804/2019, accused Atiku and his aide, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, of making several defamatory statement in the media, to the effect that Buhari used his position as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and head of the government, to fraudulently acquire two private companies, Keystones Bank Plc and 9Mobile Communication Ltd for himself, his family members, and friends. The plaintiff told the court that Atiku and his aide falsely claimed that President Buhari acquired the said companies using his influence and the control he has over the head of parastatals or organisations that are connected with activities of the companies. The BCO maintained that the unverified and false allegations it said was sponsored by Atiku, “caused grave pain, embarrassment”, to President Buhari whose integrity it said was called to question.
|Buhari and Atiku|
In an affidavit that was deposed to by its Director of Communication and Strategic Planning, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, the BCO, told the court that Atiku and his media aide engaged in smeared campaign of calumny against Buhari, 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 averred that as such, President Buhari’s reputations was greatly affected by undue diligence with regards to the authenticity of the information as it relate to the true ownership of the alleged companies which the 1 st Defendant on behalf and for the 2nd defendant, falsely published in the newspapers for the consumption of the general public. “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 the member 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 People Democratic Party hanged on this publications and using same on every campaign grounds to smear the person of the 1st Plaintiff to his supporters and other members of the public”, the BCO added. President Buhari was cited as the 2nd Plaintiff in the suit. Meanwhile, Atiku, in a counter-claim he filed through his lawyer, Mr. Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, challenged the competence of the suit he said was highly frivolous. He applied for an order mandating that the N2billion damages to be paid by both President Buhari and the BCO, should be sent to all the camps of Internally Displaced People, IDPs, across the country and for equipment of libraries and Information Technology equipment for all State Universities in Nigeria. More so, Atiku, sought for an order, “mandating President Buhari and his agents including security operatives and officers to abide by the rule of law and the principle of separation of powers entrenched in the constitution and should not intervene in the forthcoming elections”. In a 56 paragraphed witness statement on oath deposed to by one Abraham Udoh, the PDP presidential flag-bearer told the court that President Buhari has failed Nigerians by his inability as a President, to stop ruthless and wanton killings across the country. He said the killings and destructions had rendered citizens, farmers, women and children homeless without food or basic amenities of life, as well as led to the emergence of various IDP camps in the country. He said: “That under the present administration, there are over 108, 000 Internally Displaced Persons grappling with a litany of infections and hunger”. “In Taraba State the number of IDPs in the various camps are: Mayo Dassa (402 IDPs); Gullong (1259), ATC Kofai (968), Abuja I and II (357), Dorowa/Magami/Malam Joda(579), Sabon Gari (482), Malum (872), Murtai/Yaukani/Yelwa(554), Mile six (74), Nyabukaka/Tutan Kurma/Kasa(148) and Nukkai (30).
“That in Plateau State there are a total of 38, 051 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were victims of the June 23 and 24 violence involving suspected herdsmen and villagers in Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Mangu, Bokkos and Jos South Local Government Areas are taking refuge in 31 camps. “That in Benue State they have registered more than 180, 000 displaced persons in eight camps while over 500, 000 IDPs are taking shelter wherever they find space. Atiku further informed the court that President Buhari’s “lopsided appointments and insensitivity to the principle of Federal character laid down in section 14 (3) of the 1999 constitution that has led to disunity amongst Nigerians. “That the current division in Nigeria was ignited by that infamous 5% versus 97% speech that President Buhari gave in Washington on June 23, 2015. No father should ever tell some of his kids in the presence of the rest of his kids that he loves them more than the others. When this happens, the discontent that it will cause may lead to the breakup of that home. “That in a report by Transparency International (TI) released on February 21, 2018, Nigeria was still ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the World. That the inability of the Buhari administration to combat grand corruption has led to astronomical plundering of public coffers costing the Nigerian taxpayers around 25% of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “That according to a recent report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on February 28, 2018, Nigerians are getting poorer despite the country’s slow recovery from a devastating recession”. Atiku further told the court that Buhari’s desecration of the judicial process of the nation, led to a high tension and democratic instability in the country. “That Buhari in flagrant abuse of his veto power, without any unilateral support from other tiers of government illegally and unconstitutionally suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen from office on January 25, 2019 without strict adherence to the provisions of section 292 of the 1999 constitution which laid down the procedure for the removal of a judicial officer in his capacity. “That in further usurpation of the Constitutional functions of the National Judicial Council (NJC), Buhari swore in an illegal Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammed”, Atiku added. Meantime, the case has been adjourned till March 7 for hearing.