A United States-based lawyer has threatened to sue Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, for defamation if he fails to apologise within 48 hours for his comment on the controversy surrounding the return of N218 billion ($550 million) recovered Abacha loot.
Godson Nnaka, who was recruited in 2004 by the Nigerian government to recover funds stolen by late dictator Sani Abacha, had instituted a case in a U.S. district court seeking 40 percent of the recovered loot. He also asked to be made the funds’ exclusive attorney.
According to Mr. Nnaka, he was kicked out of the fund recovery case after he had spent money and time to find and recover the funds.
He also alleged that Mr. Malami jilted him after he turned down his demand to part with a kickback of as much as 70 percent of his fee, to access documentations needed for him to act on behalf of the country.
While responding to the allegation that he demanded bribe, the minister told PREMIUM TIMES that he decided to end the partnership after Mr. Nnaka threatened to embarrass President Muhammadu Buhari during one of his trips to the U.S., if he was not given the necessary documentations.
“So when I was appointed into office he approached me for such instruction. But then what annoyed me most was that he now used threat. He threatened me that if I do not give him the letter of instruction, when Mr President’s flight arrives in New York, he would embarrass the federal government. I then became annoyed because I do not naturally stand to threat. Nobody can intimidate me like a baby for procuring a letter of instruction. And on that basis I said he should do his worst. That was the genesis of the problem,” he said in a telephone interview.
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However, a statement by Mr. Nnaka’s U.S.-based counsel, Bennett Amadi, claimed his client had never met with Mr. Malami personally nor had any conversation with him on the phone.
Mr Amadi had also told PREMIUM TIMES that all correspondences between his client and the AGF had been done through attorneys.
“I wish to state categorically that Dr. Nnaka did not make any of the alleged statements. As a matter of fact, Dr. Nnaka has never held any meeting/discussion, personal, telephone or otherwise with Mr. Malami on any subject at all or on the subject of the Abacha Loots, whether in Nigeria or anywhere in the world.
“It is therefore very pathetic to think of how low Mr. Malami could descend to peddle deliberate lies and conscious misrepresentations against Dr. Nnaka.
“While it is common knowledge that anyone fighting corruption, like Mr. Nnaka, is often threatened, abused and vilified, I consider the alleged statements Mr. Malami has attributed to Dr. Nnaka as mere reckless fabrications designed by Mr. Malami to further injure and damage Dr. Nnaka.”
He therefore said that Mr. Malami has 48 hours from Wednesday to retract the statements and allegations as well as publish an apology in PREMIUM TIMES and five other Nigerian newspapers or be ready to be slammed with a defamation charge.
“Accordingly, I hereby demand of Mr. Malami to retract those statements and senseless allegations, and immediately issue a public apology to Dr. Nnaka, within the next forty-eight (48) hours, in the PREMIUM TIMES newspaper and in five other Nigerian National newspapers and two online Magazines, in the absence of which, I will initiate a libel and defamation suit on behalf of Dr. Nnaka and seek justice against Mr. Abubakar Malami, personally, in the Court of appropriate jurisdiction.”