Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, is miffed by the claim by TheCable Newspaper that he and his office secured $17 million out of the $321.5 million Abacha loot recently repatriated to Nigeria as legal fees for some lawyers, which the online medium described as ‘his boys’.
The justice minister is equally irked by the fact that the newspaper’s false claim led to his summon by the National Assembly to clear the air on the matter during which he was called unprintable names and his reputation and office disparaged.
For these reasons, he has asked the High Court of the FCT to take steps to stop the online newspaper and its publisher from further spreading false, malicious and biased information against him and his office and compel them to pay him and his office General damages of N5 billion.
In the suit with reference NO: FCT/HC/CV/ /2018, Malami wants the court to also compel the newspaper and its publisher to take off the offending material from TheCable website and server as well as a perpetual injunction against further publication of such defamatory stuff.
Other reliefs sought by the minister are:
“A DECLARATION that the articles published by the Defendants on their online news platform known as www.thecable.ng and howsoever on or about 22nd December, 2017, 9th April, 2018 and 7th May, 2018 respectively with the captions ‘Exclusive: Sleaze hits $321m Abacha loot recovery as Malami creates ‘job for the boys’, Abacha Loot: Adeosun blocks $17m dubious payment to Malami’s lawyers’ and Exclusive: US blocks Malami’s lawyers from taking a cut on $500m Abacha Loot’ respectively are defamatory against the Claimants.
“The sum of N5,000,000,000 (Five Billion Naira Only) as general damages for the injury to reputation of office to the 1st and accompanying consequential psychological and mental tortures/stress suffered by the Claimants from the Defendants defamation.
“AN ORDER directing the Defendants to remove from their server in its entirety the said defamatory articles published by the Defendants on or about 22nd December, 2017, 9th April, 2018 and 7th May, 2018 respectively with the captions ‘Exclusive: Sleaze hits $321m Abacha loot recovery as Malami creates ‘job for the boys’, Abacha Loot: Adeosun blocks $17m dubious payment to Malami’s lawyers’ and Exclusive: US blocks Malami’s lawyers from taking a cut on $500m Abacha Loot’ respectively or any similar article whatsoever.
“AN ORDER directing the Defendants to issue a public apology and retraction of the defamatory publications and cause such apologies and retractions to be published in www.thecable.ng and in four (4) national dallies in Nigeria with wide readership.
“A perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants either by themselves, agents, servants, privies or through any other person(s) from further writing or publishing the said or similar words against or in respect of the Claimants.
Malami avers that he has no interest whatsoever in the appointment of the two Nigerian lawyers: Messers Dipo Okpeseyi & Co (SAN) and Messers Tope Adebayo LLP (recovery agents) were duly appointed by the federal government as recovery agents vide a letter with Ref. No: HAGF/REC/2016/VOL.1/2 and power of attorney dated 6th January, 2016 for the repatriation of the General Abacha loot stashed in foreign jurisdictions after an objective consideration of their application for offer of service as recovery agents dated 24th December, 2015.
The minister states that following their appointments the recovery agents made several trips to London, Jersey and Switzerland and after series of negotiations the sum of $321 Million including interests thereon was repatriated back to Nigeria.
He maintains states he does not have any pecuniary interest whatsoever in the professional fees which the recovery agents are entitled to from their services.
Malami particularly draws attention to the fact that prior to the appointment of the recovery agents, Mr. Enrico Monfrini a Swiss National who was previously appointed to conduct the recoveries did not serve the interests of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ostensibly because he received his professional fees upfront and years before his principal, the Federal Government of Nigeria got her proceeds from the engagement.
The case which was filed in Friday is yet to be assigned to any judge.