A former Commissioner for Science and Technology of Lagos State, Olufemi Odubiyi, has given a PDP leader in the state, Olabode George, a seven-day ultimatum to retract the alleged defamatory comments he made against him.
Mr Odubiyi also said Mr George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, must also tender an unreserved apology and publish the same on the cover pages of three prescribed national dailies.
He stated this through his lawyer, Ayodele Akintunde, SAN, in a letter addressed to Mr George dated 17 March in Abuja.
In another letter written to the Managing Director of a media group, Mr Akintunde threatened to slam a N1 billion suit against the media house and Mr George as damages for the defamatory comments if they fail to comply with the demand.
The lawyer alleged that the PDP chieftain, in an interview on TV on 10 March, accused Mr Odubiyi of being a mole planted in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the President-elect, Bola Tinubu of All Progressives Congress (APC), to subvert the will of the Nigerian electorate in the 25 February presidential election.
The lawyer said his statements meant that his client was criminally minded and had been involved in criminal activities such as election rigging.
“In their natural and ordinary meaning, your said words meant and were understood to mean that our client is an enemy of democracy; an election rigger,” he said.
Mr Akintunde said contrary to Mr George’s remarks, Mr Odubiyi was never INEC’s head of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Department.
He also said he was not responsible for the hitches with INEC’s computers during the presidential poll which resulted in the commission’s inability to transmit results electronically.
The senior lawyer, who corrected the erroneous assumption that Mr Odubiyi was commissioner for Science and Technology during Mr Tinubu’s administration, said his client was commissioner between October 2015 and January 2018.
He described Mr Odubiyi as “a right standing and reputable member of the society and a well-meaning citizen of Nigeria with numerous years of experience locally and internationally as an IT expert without any blemish.”
He said he also served meritoriously as Lagos State commissioner.
According to him, “our client’s reputation has been seriously injured and has suffered considerable distress, anxiety and embarrassment including threats to his person and that of his family members.
In a letter to Mr George, he said: “Our client’s instructions are therefore to demand from you the following:
‘Within seven days of the receipt of this letter, you personally retract live on Arise News and Arise News YouTube channel all the defamatory words/statements made against our client.
‘And tender an unreserved apology to our client for the damage to his reputation’.”
He also demanded from the media station a retraction and unreserved apology “on the cover page of ThisDay Newspaper in no less than three issues within the seven-day ultimatum.”
He said all the defamatory broadcasts and comments made by Mr George be deleted from the TV station YouTube channel and any other platform under its control.
Mr Odubiyi asked them to give an undertaking in writing to desist from broadcasting or further broadcasting the defamatory statements or similar statements concerning his client in future.
He said failure to comply and provide them with proof of compliance within seven days of the receipt of the letter would lead to commencement of legal action against them for monetary damages in the sum of N1 billion.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that INEC had, on March 14, denied the claim by Mr George that Mr Odubiyi was the commission’s director of ICT Department.
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According to INEC, there’s no iota of truth in George’s claim as no member of its ICT staff or personnel across its state offices bears the name “Femi Odubiyi” as referred to by the PDP chieftain.
PREMIUM TIMES dialled Mr George’s phone number several times on Wednesday to ask for his response to the demand but his phone was switched off.
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