Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El Rufai has slammed a N2bn defamation suit against a former media aide to ex-President, Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Reno Omokri, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, a former Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Thisday Newspapers Limited and others.
Others sued in the three separate suits are Timothy Elombah, Daniel Elombah, Silas Onu and Auta Nyada.
The defamation suits were filed by his lawyer A.U. Mustapha (SAN) before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
In the case against Omokri, El Rufai contends that statements contained in his publication titled: ‘El Rufai’s email saying southern women youth corpers are seen as whores’ which was published by Thisday newspaper on Sunday 14th of June 2020 is injurious to his reputation, adding that it is “malicious, unwarranted and defamatory”.
The alleged defamatory statement are as follows: “Ever since I revealed that the Governor of Kaduna state had sent me an email wherein he said that Southern women youth corpers were seen as “whores”, there have been multiple sophisticated attempts to hack my email account. I do not know why anyone will be stupid enough to think that a meticulous record keeper as myself would leave such a sensitive detail in my inbox. For the attention of those who are trying to hack my account, that email is with my lawyers. The email was sent to me on Wednesday the 27th of April, 2011.
“The reason I chose to expose its existence is that Nasir El-Rufai is scheming to become Nigeria’s President, and in my opinion, and I am sure in the opinion of every right-thinking person, Nigeria cannot afford another Buharesque autocrat who says that Southern women youth corpers are seen (sic) whores. This was the sentiment expressed by extremist Hutus against Tutsis and was key to dehumanising them before, during and after the Rwandan genocide.”
The Defendants continued in their unlawful and malicious defamation of the Claimant in the said publication thus:-
“Look at what is happening in Southern Kaduna. In recent weeks, Southern Kaduna men, women, children and infants were being killed by herdsmen and the Kaduna State Governor has shown that he is more interested in appeasing and of apologising for the suspected perpetrators. The photographs of the victims are just too gruesome. It is just like a déjà vu of Dogo Na Hauwa. If you do not know what happened in Dogo Na Hauwa, in Plateau State, then Google the massacre that occurred there on March 7, 2010. Two years later, when violence erupted again in Plateau, and it looked like it was going to lead to a reoccurrence of Dogo Na Hauwa, then President Jonathan ordered troops to go to Plateau and keep the peace. I still have chills in my spine when I recall Nasir El-Rufai’s response to the attempt by the Nigerian Army to protect Nigerian citizens. On Sunday, July 15, 2012, Nasir El-Rufai said, and I quote, “We will write this for all to read. Anyone, soldier or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes.” When you take into account the ferocity, and integrity of the Southern massacre killings and the ease at which the killers can raid these communities, with impunity, and sad to say, gravitas, one can’t stop asking if the loan El-Rufai mentioned on July 15, 2012 is being repaid in 2020. And then imagine if this man gets access to power at the centre. How will he treat Southern Nigerians?”
The governor demanded the sum of N500 million in compensation and an apology published in the newspaper.
In the suit against against Odinkalu, Daniel Elombah and Elombah Communications, El Rufai contends that the publication titled: ‘Litany of 25 critics who have suffered at El Rufai’s hands compiled by Chidi Odinkalu’ which was published in Elombah.com on Wednesday September 2, 2020 is “malicious, unlawful and without any justification.”
He specifically referred to the following statement: “Nasir El-Rufai has caused to be issued on his behalf a tissue of untruths, half-truths & falsehoods concerning his brutal persecution of his critics as Governor of Kaduna State.
To help his memory, here is a litany of #bodybags of critics who have suffered at his hands: Kaduna govt speaks on Dadiyata, prosecution of Odinkalu, Maikori, others
The Kaduna justice ministry released a statement, on Monday, to explain its stance.
“This thread is merely illustrative and not exhaustive of the tale of El-Rufai’s crimes of abuse of power, Napoleon Syndrome, and ruinous peeves and pettinesses.
This is necessitated by the tissue of mendacity issued on his behalf yesterday by Ministry of Justice, Kaduna.”
He demanded the sum of N500 million in damages and apology for the “defamatory and greatly injurious to his reputation.”
El Rufai also argued that the letter written by Jospen Onu and dated August 19, 2020 titled:’ Request to withdraw the offer of platform at the 2020 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Malam Nasir El Rufai’ addressed to Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi, SAN, in his capacity as the Chairman, Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) Nigerian Bar Association and copied to DR. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Chairman, Board of Trustee, Nigerian Bar Association and Mr. Olumide Akpata, the then President-Elect of the NBA and published in the media, is “defamatory and greatly injurious to the reputation of the claimant.”
El Rufai also demands an apology and the sum of N500 million in another suit, the governor alleged that Silas Onu and Auta Nyada made the following defamatory statement against him: “As you may know, on 9 December 2019, Quartz Africa named Governor El-Rufai as the head of a “powerful’’ group of Nigerian state Governors who ‘’now regularly use security agents to arrest & intimidate journalists & activists to who dare to question their actions or attempt to hold them accountable.” University lecturer, Abubakar Idris, better known as Dadiyata, who was abducted from the gate of his house in Barnawa, Kaduna, on August 2019 and has not yet been seen since then. At 10:16 Hours on 23 December 2019, one of Governor El-Rufai’s sons, Bashir, issued a tweet gloating over the disappearance of Didiyata, in which he signed off with the line ‘’Dangerous lines in the public have consequences.’’ The Kaduna State government has not much acted as if the disappearance of Dadiyata is of much concern to it.”
He further claimed that the duo made the following defamatory comments against him: “Many other critics of Governor El-Rufai have been luckier, but only because they ended up in prison or detention. These include, university lecturer Dr. John Danfulani. Digital activist, Stephen Kefason, was abducted from his home in Rivers State on the orders of Governor El-Rufai and detained for over five months. Luka Biniyat, Journalist with Vanguard Newspaper, was also detained and, at the instance of Governor El-Rufai, fired from his job for writing a report the Governor didn’t like. The same thing happened to Segun Oniboyi, another Journalist with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN.”
That the unjustified, malicious and unwarranted attacks by the defendants against him (El-rufai) continued at paragraph 7 of the offensive publication thus:-
“A major focus of the intolerance of Mallam El-Rufai has been lawyers and the legal profession. In 2016, when he was visited by the then President of the Nigerian Bar, A.B. Mahmood, SAN. Governor El-Rufai threatened to the NBA president to abduct Kaduna lawyer, Ms. Gloria Ballason, because she had criticized him in a news article. A perfectly lawful act exercising constitutionally protected speech. Ms. Ballason, sued to protect her rights and in May 2017, secured a judgement of the High Court of Kaduna State which found that the Governor indeed violated her rights. The High Court awarded also damages against the Governor. He refused to pay up. Instead, he instigated another round of violations of the rights of Ms. Ballason, instructing the Kaduna State Police Command to blockade her law office in Kaduna at the end of 2019. In July 2020, the High Court of Kaduna State presided over by Honorable Justice Hannatu Balogun again found Governor El-Rufai and the Police in Kaduna State under his direction, in violation of the right of Ms. Ballason to practice her vocation as a lawyer. The High Court specifically found that they violated the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.“
No date has been fixed for the hearing.