By Dirisu Yakubu – Abuja
Billionaire businessman, Tony Elumelu, Monday, gave Senator Ayo Akinyelure, chairman, Senate Committee on Privileges and Public Petitions seven days ultimatum to retract a statement credited to him indicting the former United Bank for Africa, UBA, in a N41 billion alleged fraud.
Counsels to Dr. Elumelu, in a letter to the lawmaker, threatened to drag him before the court if he fails to retract and publicly apologies to ex-banker.
The Senator was reported to have claimed that Dr. Elumelu who is also the Chairman of Tony Elumelu Foundation and Heirs Holding group was indicted in a N41 billion naira fraud when he was the Managing Director of UBA.
The Senator was reported to have said that “the N41billion alleged fraud was committed against the defunct Telecommunication company and National Carrier, NITEL. The said sum was withdrawn systematically from NITEL for nine years under Tony Elemelu’s watch and two other former Managing Directors of United Bank for Africa.”
Acting on a petition by counsel to NITEL, J.U Ayogu, and Co, the Senate Committee has summoned the Group Managing Director (GMD) and Chief Executive Officer, CEO of the United Bank for Africa, Kennedy Uzoka to appear before the committee on August 5, 2020.
But in a letter by his lawyers, Lawal Rabana and Oluwakemi Balogun, the Senior Advocates stressed that their client (Elumelu) was alarmed and appalled by what they called “deliberate peddling of falsehood and misinformation against an unblemished personal and business reputation, painstakingly” built by their client over several decades with great personal sacrifice and matchless integrity.
According to the lawyers, “It is important to emphasize that when UBA appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, attention was drawn to the fact that the facts and circumstances leading to the disputes on the alleged financial indebtedness were pending before the Supreme Court in SC/CV/112/2020.
They added that it was resolved that given the pendency of the matter at the Supreme Court, “it was sub-judice and all actions on the matter are suspended.”
They continued, “it is shocking and sacrilegious that a matter pending at the apex court could be subjected to debate contrary to the rules of the Senate and by extension, the principle of law that when a matter is sub-judice, it should not be subjected to debate before a decision is reached by the Court.
“The publications ascribed to Senator Ayo Akinyelure is in total disregard of the Rules of Senate and the Rule of Law”.
The lawyers, therefore, demanded an “immediate, open, public, and unreserved retraction of the said statements credited to Senator Akinyelure as well as an apology from Senator Akinyelure for this false allegation and defamation.
“We have our client’s further instruction to take all appropriate legal actions against Senator Akinyelure and his media agents if our above-stated demand is not met within seven days of their receipt of our demand letter.”