Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, to court on alleged libelous tweet via her Twitter handle on May 7.
The post suggested that Atiku was on the watch list of security operatives in the United Arab Emirates and insinuated that he travelled to shop for terrorists in the Middle East.
Atiku’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, filed a N2.5bn suit against Onochie at an High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja on June 26.
“To say that the claimant is shopping for terrorists knowing same to be untrue and without any foundation is not only dishonest and reckless, but is calculated and politically designed to instigate security agents against him not only in the UAE but across the world,” he stated in his statement of claim accompanying the suit.
Denying the allegations contained in the said tweet, Atiku said the tweet 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 Peoples Democratic Party in the February 23 poll had in a May 14 letter demanded an apology, retraction and payment of N500m compensation from Onochie “to assuage” the damage allegedly caused him by her social media post.
He also threatened to sue her should she fail to accede to the demand “within 48 hours”.
Alleging that Onochie was unmoved by his demand letter, Atiku, in his statement of claim accompanying his suit, stated that rather than show “remorse by retracting her earlier publication”, she further, on May 20, made “another derogatory publication and also published same globally online in the social and other print media” against his person.
He said sometime in May this year, he had embarked on a foreign trip to the UAE as he had done over the years, and while on the said trip, Onochie on May 7 wrote through her twitter handle: “Atiku on UAE watchlist- Security sources. Security operatives in the United Arab Emirates are keeping a close tab on a former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar who has been in the Middle East nation for several weeks now What is he doing there? Me: Shopping for Terrorists?”
The claimant said “the defamatory publication” was also published by several newspapers nationwide and on several social media news.