Leading anti-corruption group sues Adoke for defamation, demands N100m
By Samuel Ogunsona
Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption group has sued former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, (SAN) for false and malicious claims which the group said tarnish it’s hard earned image.
In a suit filed at the FCT High Court in Abuja, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA) is asking Adoke to withdraw the malicious publications and pay N100m as damages. Adoke is the solicitor for main suspects on the OPL 245 scam which saw Nigeria loose billions of dollars to corrupt officials in dirty oil deals.
HEDA’s lawyers in documents made available to Irohinoodua are demanding for payment of N100m for damages and a retraction of the false claims.
HEDA has assembled a team of lawyers led by renonwn human rights lawyer, Kunle Adegoke,(SAN) to prosecute the case.
In the writ of summon, HEDA said attempts were being made to subvert the wheel of justice on the ongoing criminal trial of parties connected with the OPL 245 settlement agreement in Italy and Nigeria. The group said in the process of covering up dirty tracks, suspects in the high profile case resorted to blackmail and armtwisting tactics targeting HEDA, which is leading the global campaign, and it’s leaders.
The anti corruption group alleges injury and malice against HEDA and it’s leading officials.
HEDA lawyers said the allegations in the said statements are injurious to the character, reputation and integrity of the organization and as someone who does not deserve to be credited with committing the offence of forgery or collusion with investigators and public prosecutors in Milan, Italy and Nigeria with the unlawful aim of procuring false documentary evidence for use in subverting the wheel of justice in the ongoing criminal trial of parties connected with the OPL 245 settlement agreement in Italy and Nigeria.
HEDA claimed it authored the petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which spurred investigation that led to the prosecution of persons and entities amongst which is the Adoke
The lawyers said Adoke is aware that HEDA did not forge the email dated 21st June, 2021 or the interview between Adoke and Ms.Carlamaria and neither did he collude with investigators and public prosecutors in Milan, Italy and Nigeria with the unlawful aim of procuring false documentary evidence for use in subverting the wheel of justice
The group argued that it was alarmed to receive several telephone calls and messages from his friends, professional colleagues, associates and well-wishers on the subject of the statements credited to Adoke by describing it and its official as committing the offence of forgery.
He said many of his callers were human rights activists and members of the public who were deeply worried about threat to his integrity as well-known human rights activist and anti-corruption campaigner and thereby challenged his avowal to the tenets of HEDA as a human rights and anti corruption body and queried his capability to continue leading the organisation in its anti-corruption campaign.
The summon claims that friends and partners of the HEDA Chairman, Mr Suraju Olanrewaju “were shocked by the allegations of Adoke in the statements, whom they had hitherto regarded to be an advocate of good governance.
“As a matter of fact, some of the my friends could not fathom how the I could engage in activities causing embarrassment to the organization.
Adegoke said on 1st April, 2021, that Suraju was invited by men of the Nigerian Police (IGP Monitoring Unit) and confronted with a handwritten statement of Adoke where he specifically named him as the person who forged the email dated 21st June, 2021 and the telephone interview alleged to have occurred between Ms. Carlamaria Rumor and the Adoke.
“Suraju was grilled by the Police for upwards of about nine hours and still being investigated on the false allegations of Adoke till date.”
He said the news of Suraju’s arrest and detention was circulated in all mainstream and online news media, wherein he was maligned and utterly embarrassed on account of the malicious publications. He said this prompted the threats he received from groups including oil giant, Eni.
He said the reports were circulated worldwide.
The lawyers aver that Eni certainly believed the allegations in Adoke’s publication and that it is upon this belief that it premised its threat.
HEDA said the dust of lies peddled against the organisation has cast immeasurable aspersion on the reputation group and the standing of it’s leaders in the eyes of right-thinking members of society.
He said through the false and heinous allegations of forgery, inflicted grievous damage on him and his organisation.
HEDA insists that since the time of the publication, other well-meaning persons and organisations both locally and international have written to Adoke demanding that he should withdraw his false publication and tender an apology but he has blatantly refused.
At the trial, HEDA said it will rely on the publication of the United Kingdom Anti-Graft Group, Corner House of 25th April, 2021 and HEDA’s publication of 27th April, 2021 respectively requesting a retraction by the defendant of his publication as published by several news outlets.
HEDA is seeking a declaration that the publications were harmful
The group is also seeking an order compelling Adoke to immediately withdraw the said publication and statements published worldwide on various national daily newspapers, mainstream and online news media and tender an unreserved apology in two national daily newspapers circulating all over the Federation
He asked the Court to compel Adoke to pay damages to the Claimant in the sum of NGN100,000,000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira) only as compensation for the reputation of the claimant that the defendant has put on the line maliciously.