President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife, Aisha, on Wednesday sued Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State for claiming she was involved in the Halliburton scandal.
Mr. Fayose had in June said Mrs. Buhari was the “Aisha Buhari” named in a U.S. court document, alleged to have been involved in bribery case involving a convicted former U.S. lawmaker, Williams Jefferson.
The governor, in what appeared to be an error, referred to the Jefferson bribery as the Halliburton scandal, which is an entirely different case.
Mr. Fayose however insisted he was right, despite Mrs. Buhari’s denial and threat of lawsuit.
In the ex-parte motion, filed July 20, 2016, and made exclusively available to PREMIUM TIMES, Mrs. Buhari prayed the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, to grant her reliefs to issue writ of summons against Mr. Fayose and his media advisers, Idowu Adelusi and Lere Olayinka.
Olukayode Adeniyi, the presiding judge, granted all reliefs sought by Mrs. Buhari, including an order of substituted service.
Mary Ekpere, counsel to Mrs. Buhari, prayed the court for the lawsuit to be served on Mr. Fayose and his two aides.
Mr. Adeniyi approved the service be done through a courier service, DHL, or “by publication in the online media platform, namely PREMIUM TIMES with web page: www.premiumtimesng.com,” court filings seen by this newspaper say.
Mrs. Buhari had earlier written to the governor on June 23, demanding retraction.
In her earlier letter, Mrs. Buhari described the allegation that she was involved in either scandal as “very wild and unfounded”.
The material distributed by Mr. Fayose on June 20 said the first lady was an accomplice in the bribery scandal that landed Mr. Jefferson in jail.
Although Aisha Buhari was mentioned in the case files as having transferred a sum of $170,000 to Mr. Jefferson, former heads of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission who investigated the matter said the Aisha Buhari named in the document was an impostor and not President Buhari’s wife.
In separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES, Ibrahim Lamorde, the immediate past chairman of the EFCC, and Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer head of the agency, said they carried out extensive investigation into the case during their respective tenures and established that the woman named in the scandal was an impostor.
Mr. Buhari himself had in the past said he had no link with the Aisha Buhari in the Jefferson scandal.
Mr. Fayose stuck to his claims nonetheless, and dismissed Mrs. Buhari’s threat of legal action.
“Our client states and reaffirms categorically that the statement he made as regards the involvement of Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of President Buhari, in the Halliburton scandal, is correct and justified in law; having regards to a court judgement convicting one Mr William Jefferson for bribery in the Halliburton case,” Mr. Fayose’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, wrote last week.
“The said Williams Jefferson is currently serving a jail term in the USA and to the best of our client’s knowledge; this judgment has not been challenged, or set aside by any Appellate court of law anywhere
in the world.
“The statement of His Excellency, our client, is therefore correct and justified, same having been factually premised on an existing court judgment above referred to.”
On the immunity enjoyed by Governor Fayose against civil and criminal proceedings, Mr. Ozekhome said: “Your attention is also hereby drawn to Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered, on the immunity enjoyed by our client from civil or criminal proceedings for the period that he occupies the office of the governor of Ekiti State.
“You may therefore advise your client to wait until after 16th October, 2018, when our client’s tenure expires. When that happens, we shall join issues with your client in a competent court of law, in the event that your client does not have a change of heart.”