The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, has taken the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to court for defamation and is demanding N1.5 billion in damages.
This follows the release of a list of alleged looters of the nation’s treasury by the minister. The list contained prominent names of members of the opposition PDP including Mr Secondus. Mr Mohammed had released the list in response to a challenge to do so by the PDP.
The PDP had earlier given the minister a deadline to apologise over the list, and had threatened court action.
According to a statement from the national chairman’s media office signed by his spokesperson, Ike Abonyi, Mr Secondus in the suit no/PHC/1013/2018 claimed that Mr Mohammad’s publication is ”defammatory” and is asking the court to direct him to retract the said publication and apologise in writing.
The minister had mentioned Mr Secondus and other party members in the list of those who looted the nation’s treasury specifically alleging that he (Secondus) collected N200 million from the former National Security Adviser (NSA).
Others on the list were former National Publicity Secretary, Olisah Metuh; Raymond Dokpesi; Chairman of DAAR Communications and a former aide to President Jonathan, Dudafa Waripamo-Owei.
The PDP chairman through his lawyer, Emeka Etiaba, had written to the minister seeking the immediate retraction of his name on the list and the payment of N1.5 billion damages and public apology within 72 hours.
He told Mr Mohammad that failure to meet this demand will lead to a suit
“Having failed to meet the demand, Secondus on Friday April 6, 2018, made good his threat and filed a suit at the Port Harcourt, High Court, Rivers state claiming among other things that the court awards to him the sum of N1.5 billion being damages for humiliation, castigation, vilification attack on his person and integrity as a result of the publication.
“Publish the retraction and apology in all the social media including but not limited to the following newspapers, the Nation, Thisday, The Sun, Guardian and Punch as well as in the following television channels, NTA and Channels Television among others where the defammatory story was published,” the statement said.
Mr Secondus is also asking the court for a perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from further publishing defammatory materials against him.
Joined in the suit are the federal government through the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Vintage Press Ltd, Publishers of the Nation Newspapers.