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Omisore Sues EFCC for Libel, Demands N10bn as Damages

A former deputy governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore has dragged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before a Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged defamation and falsehood.

Omisore said the commission was wrong to have declared him wanted even as he asked the court to award him N10 billion “for libel and injurious falsehood.”

The court document reads thus:

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY ABUJA IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION HOLDEN AT ABUJA

SUIT NO:

BETWEEN:

SENATOR DR. IYIOLA OMISORE (PLAINTIFF)

AND

  1. ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION
  2. WILSON UWUJAREN  (DEFENDANTS)

 STATEMENT OF CLAIM

  1. The Plaintiff is a Business man, Politician and Engineer residing at …………….. Abuja.
  2. The Plaintiff is a well-respected Chieftaincy Title Holder in various towns including Ife, Ilesa, Osogbo, Ijero, Ibadan, Ede, Ila Oragun, Makurdi, Gombe, Onitsha. The Plaintiff’s titles include the Apesin Oodua of the Source, High Chief Lisa of Osogbo, Akinrogun of Ede, Agbaakin of Ila Orangu, Asiwaju Balogun of Ibadanland, Mayegun of Ijero Kingdom, Ashipa of Inisa, Seriki of Usi, Basorun of Ijesaland, Zetajuror of Tiv.
  3. The Plaintiff is a distinguished Engineer by profession having obtained two engineering degrees from the Technology College, Reading, United Kingdom and Brunel University, Uxbridge. The Plaintiff is also a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, England and Wales.
  4. The Plaintiff possesses a Doctorate Degree (PH.D) in Infrastructure Finance from the International School of Management, Paris, France and has broad expertise in Public and Private Partnerships.
  5. The Plaintiff has undergone several courses in various high profile academic institutions including Havard University; West London College, United Kingdom; Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA; ABS Academy, Athen, Greece; University of Carolina; and the Internationale Weiterbildung und Entwicklungg, Germany.
  6. The Plaintiff is a respected and celebrated politician who was elected Deputy Governor of Osun State from 1999 to 2003.
  7. The Plaintiff was elected a Senator in the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 2003 to 2007 representing Ijesha East Senatorial District of Osun State and he was re-elected in 2007 for another tenure that ended in 2011.
  8. The Plaintiff was the Chairman of the Appropriation Committee of the Senate between 2007 and 2011.
  9. The Plaintiff is a Consultant to the World Bank and several other renowned financial institutions.
  10. The 1st Defendant is an Agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria statutorily vested with powers to prosecute financial and economic crimes with its head office situate at No. 5, Fomella Street, Off Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja.
  11. Further to paragraph 10 above, the 1st Defendant has in the course of its duties and exercise of its powers published or caused to be published advertorial containing Statements that are defamatory of the reputation of the Plaintiff vide its advertorial contained in Page 37 of the Nation Newspaper of 25thMay, 2016.
  12. The 2nd Defendant is an Agent/Officer of the 1st Defendant who personally authored and published the defamatory advertorial contained in Page 37 of the Nation Newspaper of 25thMay, 2016 on behalf of the 1stDefendant.

 PUBLICATION BY THE DEFENDANTS

  1. The Plaintiff avers that by apublication contained in Page 37 of the Nation Newspaper of 25th May, 2016 the 1st Defendant maliciously declared the Plaintiff “Wanted” in connection with a case of receiving and misappropriating the sum of over N700 Million between June–November 2014 from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA). An excerpt of the Defendants’ malicious publication is shown below:

“The public is hereby notified that Iyiola Ajani Omisore whose photograph appears above is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in connection with a case of receiving and misappropriating the sum of over N700 Million between June–November 2014 from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA). He has refused to make himself available to the Commission for clarifications in the investigation since invitation via a letter dated 7th April, 2016.”

  1. The Plaintiff states that apart from the advertorial in the Nation Newspaperand other national newspapers which have very wide circulation within Nigeria, the publication was widely circulated by electronic media thereby causing its contents to be published to persons resident in various countries of the world.
  2. The Plaintiff avers that the content of the publication in Page 37 of the Nation Newspaper of 25th May, 2016 is completely false, misleading and defamatory of the Plaintiff.
  3. The Plaintiff states that by the publication, the Defendants have damaged his character, integrity and persona by alluding as follows:
  4. That the Plaintiff is a fugitive of dishonourable character seeking to elude the law
  5. That the Plaintiff is a fraudster who has deliberately refused to honour an invitation by the 1st Defendant in relation to criminal allegations of fraud.
  6. That the Plaintiff lacks financial credit and has been involved in criminal misappropriation.
  7. That the Plaintiff’s hard-earned reputation is questionable.
  8. That the Plaintiff is a person to be avoided and shunned by the Society being a fugitive and a man of questionable character.
  9. The Plaintiff avers that since the publication, he has received numerous phone calls all over the world from family members, friends, business and political associates, concerned residents of towns in which he holds chieftaincy titles and old school mates abroad.
  10. Further to paragraph 17 above, the Plaintiff has been subjected to daily interrogation by friends, business and political associates who are now of the opinion that the Plaintiff is a person tainted with fraud and ought not to be accorded any goodwill.

MALICE BY THE DEFENDANTS AGAINST THE PLAINTIFF

  1. The Plaintiff avers that the publication of the 1st Defendant is malicious in its content and the intent underlying it by reason of the following undisputable facts known to the Defendants.

PARTICULARS

  1. Sometime in 2014, a company Fimex Gilt Ltd. presented some proposals to the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki on some of the Security Services it could render to the National Security Adviser towards combating the scourge of terrorism and influx of terrorists into the country.
  2. Subsequently the former National Security Adviser and Fimex Gilt Ltd entered into a contract wherein Fimex Gilt Ltd was to implement its border protection and intelligence services proposal. Thus, Fimex Gilt Ltd was directed to proceed with the execution of the project while payments were to be made to Fimex Gilt Ltd.
  3. Prior to the payment made by the former National Security Adviser on the contract, he (the Plaintiff) was approached and he had loaned Fimex Gilt Ltd some of the funds required by Fimex Gilt Ltd to perform the contract.
  4. Upon receipt of the payment by Fimex Gilt Ltd from the former National Security Adviser for the execution of the contract, the Managing Director of Fimex Gilt Ltd knwon as Adetona David Famadewa who is well known to the Plaintiff on behalf of Fimex Gilt Ltd repaid the fund loaned to Fimex Gilt Ltd to the Plaintiff.
  5. The Plaintiff had no further interests, affiliations or dealings with Fimex Gilt Ltd and was not in any way involved in the performance of the contract between the former National Security Adviser and Fimex Gilt Ltd.
  1. Fimex Gilt Ltd and its Managing Director, Adetona David Famadewaare aware that the Plaintiff had no connection with them in relation to the procurement and the execution of the contract between the Fimex Gilt Ltd and the office of theNational Security Adviser.
  2. The Defendants despite being informed by the Managing Director of Fimex Gilt Ltd that the Plaintiff had nothing to do with the execution of the contract have continued to harass and intimidate the Plaintiff to refund all monies by the former National Security Adviser in relation to the contract.
  3. The Defendants are aware of the above details because Fimex Gilt Ltd and its Managing Director instituted a civil action in suit no. ……….. against the 1st Defendant and the Office of the National Security Adviser for the balance of the contract sum and an order restraining the 1st Defendant from harassing them on account of the contract.
  4. The 1st Defendant disregarded the actions filed by Fimex Gilt Ltd and its Managing Director and the orders of injunction granted in their favour and continued to harass the Plaintiff by sending a letter of invitation dated 7th April, 2016 to Plaintiff to attend or appear at its office at Zone 7 Abuja.
  5. The Plaintiff became aware that the 1st Defendant’s invitation was a deliberate ploy to arrest and detain him on account of the civil transaction between Fimex Gilt Ltd and the Office of the National Security Adviser.
  6. The Plaintiff was compelled to approach the Court vide suit no. FCT/HC/CV/1456/2016 for the protection of his fundamental human rights when he was persistently and unduly harassed and intimidated by the Defendants. Consequent on an application for interim injunction in the said action, the Honourable Court granted an interim injunction against the Defendants in the following terms:

AN ORDER OF INTERIM INJUNCTION is hereby made restraining the 1st and 2ndRespondents, by themselves, their agents, officers, servants, privies or anybody howsoever described, from unlawfully arresting, detaining or in any manner interfering with the Fundamental Rights of the Applicant without following the due process of law.

  1. The 1st Defendant was duly served with the Plaintiffs case and it duly filed a Counter Affidavit and a preliminary objection and making several appearances before the Honourable Court. The Plaintiff shall found and rely on the 1stDefendant’s Counter-Affidavit and the Notice of Preliminary Objection at the hearing of this suit.
  2. The context of the Counter Affidavit of the 1st Defendant shows clearly that the 1st Defendant is aware that the reason the Plaintiff is not honouring its invitation is because of the pendency of the court action and the subsistence of the court order hence the 1st Defendant also filed a preliminary objection claiming that the Plaintiff was seeking to curtain the exercise of its statutory powers by filing the action.
  3. On Tuesday the 17th May, 2016, the matter was to be heard by the Honourable Court and both the Plaintiff and the 1st Defendant were represented but the Court did not sit and the matter was further adjourned to the 4th July, 2016 for hearing.
  1. Regardless of the above state of affairs, the 1st Defendant acting through the 2nd Defendant pretending that it was not aware of the fact that the action was pending and that the Court Order was subsisting and most importantly that the Plaintiff had through the action submitted the issue of is invitation to the Court proceeded to make the false and malicious publication declaring the Plaintiff wanted for not honouring its invitation.
  2. The Defendants’ statement was adeliberately concocted falsehood designed to malign the personality of the Plaintiff, injure his reputation and lower him in the estimation of right-thinking members of the society in that:
  3. The Defendants duly invited the Plaintiff and he responded through his Counsel that he will honour the invitation.
  4. The Plaintiff was apprehensive of the threat to breach of his fundamental human right by the 1stDefendant and proceeded to the law Court against the Defendants to protect himself.

iii. The Defendant is aware of the court action and the orders made therein

iiii. The Defendant is aware that the Plaintiff did not honour its invitation because the issues bothering on the invitation had been submitted to the law Court for adjudication

  1. The Defendant duly filed processes against the Plaintiff in this suit.
  2. Yet the Defendant proceeded to declare the Plaintiff wanted.

EFFECT OF THE DEFENDANT’S PUBLICATION ON THE PLAINTIFF

  1. The Plaintiff is a World Bank Consultant with prospective jobs in 18 Countries.
  2. The malicious publication of the Defendant has put the Plaintiff’s Consultancy with the World Bank under threat and the Plaintiffstands to lose prospective jobs in over 18 countries.
  3. The Plaintiff avers that by reason of the falsified and malicious publication, he stands to lose prospective consultancy jobs in the following international financial institutions among several others, namelyEuropean Investment Bank in Luxembourg, Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank, UK DFID, ODA in France, Global Fund, Lennards Fund, Ford Foundation, International Monetary Fund, International Finance Corporation, International Bank for reconstruction and development.
  4. The Plaintiff’s projects at various stages of bidding are also threatened by the said publication which tainted the Plaintiff as a wanted criminal.
  5. The Plaintiff states that he has been inundated with calls and messages from his old school mates in Uxbridge, Harvard, International School of Management Paris, Cornell and Stanford who are worried and embarrassed by the publication with alumni body of some of these institutions wanting to disown and delist the Claimant as a result of the publication.
  6. The Plaintiff further states that he has Children attending Georgia Tech, IMT Cambridge, Warwick University, London School of Economics, Oxford University, Imperial College London and his children have been exposed to shame and embarrassment by reason of the malicious publication of the Defendants.
  1. The Plaintiff avers that he has been exposed to ridicule and embarrassment within the professional Institutions that he belongs to which include, Charted Institutes of building Services Engineers, Institutions of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers of England and Wales, Association of Cost Engineers in England and Wales, Nigeria Society of Engineers in Nigeria, Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
  2. The false, irresponsible and malicious publication of the Defendants has also putthe Plaintiff’s consultancy contracts with China Export Import Bank, American Export Import Bank in New York and several bilateral and multilateral agencies who are afraid of dealing with the Plaintiffas a person declared wanted for evading the law.
  3. The Plaintiff’s old Clients like the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chevron, Mobil Producing Nigeria, The British High Commission, Embassy of the USA with whom he maintains retainerships are afraid to continue with him and are threatening to terminate their contract with the claimant being a “wanted person”.
  4. The Plaintiff states that the Defendants’ publication has eroded the confidence of private enterprises, public institutions, business associates, friends and the general public in the Plaintiff’s character, goodwill and reputation.
  5. The Plaintiff avers that he continues to suffer untold hardship, emotional distress and irreparable loss and damage as a result of the Defendants’ Publication
  6. By a letter dated the 25th May, 2016, the Plaintiff caused his Solicitors to write the Defendant regarding the impropriety of the said publication and thereby requested a retraction of the publication.
  7. Since receipt of the letter by the Defendants, the Defendants have failed, neglected and/or refused to retract the said the malicious publication.
  8. The Plaintiff shall at the trial in this suit rely on the following documents in proof of its case:
  9. The Nation Newspaper of 25th May, 2016 (Page 37)
  10. Plaintiff’s Solicitors’ letter to the Defendants dated the 25th May, 2016
  11. The Certified True Copies of the Court processes in Suit No:………….. and Suit ………. Filed by Fimex Gilt Ltd and its Managing Director against the 1st Defendant and others.
  12. The Certified True Copies of the Court processes and enrolment of order in Suit No:FCT/HC/CV/1456/2016 filed by the Plaintiff against the 1st Defendant and others.
  13. The Certified True Copies of the Counter Affidavit and Preliminary objection filed by the 1st Defendant in the suit.
  14. WHEREOF the Plaintiff claims against Defendants as follows:
  1. The sum of N10 billon being Aggravated and Exemplary damages for libel and injurious falsehood maliciously published of and concerning the Plaintiff in the pages of the Nation Newspaper of 18th May, 2016 whereof the Defendants declared the Plaintiff ” wanted” and stated as follows:

“The public is hereby notified that Iyiola Ajani Omisore whose photograph appears above is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in connection with a case of receiving and misappropriating the sum of over N700 Million between June–November 2014 from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA). He has refused to make himself available to the Commission for clarifications in the investigation since invitation via a letter dated 7th April, 2016.”

  1. AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the Defendants either by themselves, their agents, officers, servants, privies or otherwise however called from making such or similar defamatory publication of and concerning the Plaintiff to any person or persons.

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