Peter Odili, a former governor of Rivers State, has filed defamation charges against Chidi Odinkalu and Ayisha Osori for the way they portrayed him in their new book on the alleged third term plots by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
In the suit, filed at the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court, Mr Odili said the contents of ‘Too Good To Die: Third Term and the Myth of the Indispensable Man in Africa’ have earned him huge public ridicule and scorn.
He demanded a published apology and N1 billion from Mr Odinkalu and Ms Osori, and that further publication of copies of the book must cease immediately.
Mr Odinkalu told PREMIUM TIMES he would not be able to comment on the case because he had not been served a court notice and had not learnt of the proceeding by other means.
In the defamation charges prepared for Mr Odili by Kanu Agabi, a senior lawyer, the former governor said he took note of excerpts of the book in which the authors narrated how late politician, Harry Marshall, was assassinated soon after they publicly fell out with each other in 2003.
The book cited a letter which Mr Marshall had written to the police in Rivers at the time, expressing strong concerns about a growing spate of intimidation and violent attacks against members of the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party (ANPP) in the state.
Mr Marshall said the attackers were loyalists of Mr Odili, and they had the support of the police (to) regularly unleash mayhem ahead of the 2003 elections.
The book also painted vivid details of how Mr Odili helped bankroll the third term agenda which Mr Obasanjo pushed to perpetuate himself in power beyond the 2007 expiration of his constitutionally-approved two terms of eight years.
“Most of the cash distributed in support of the project were wrapped in bundles bearing the stamp of First Inland Bank. Unknown to most people, First Inland Bank’s history lay buried in networks of loyalty between some of the most influential leaders of the ruling party, including President Obasanjo himself,” the authors wrote on page 162.
“The corporate trail however disclosed a deep financial bond between the president, Senator Ararume and the governments of Bauchi and Rivers States, then ruled, respectively, by two of President Obasanjo’s closest governorship acolytes, Adamu Muazu and Peter Odili, who were at the centre of shadowy, complex, unlawful and, almost certaining, criminal financial operations behind third term,” the authors added.
In his lawsuit, Mr Odili said the book cast him in a distasteful light before reasonable people across the world who have read it, including eminent scholars in the United States.
The former governor listed scores of awards he has received from persons and organisations across the world throughout his career, and said there was no way he could have been involved in the slew of criminal exploits Mr Odinkalu and Ms Osori linked to him in their book, which was unveiled in September, 2018.