By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini, has threatened to institute a N1billion libel suit against a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr. Blessing Agbomhere.
Igini, in a pre-litigation notice that was prepared by his team of lawyers led by Chief Clement Onwuenwunor, SAN, a copy of which he made available to Vanguard, alleged that the APC chieftain had in a television interview he granted on June 29, accused him of not only working for the PDP in Akwa Ibom State, but equally acting as a ceremonial consultant to Governor of the state, Udom Emmanuel.
While denying the allegation, the INEC REC, said he would not hesitate to approach the court, should Dr. Agbomhere fail to within 48 hours, retract the said defamatory statements and tender an apology to him in four major TV stations and five prominent Newspapers.
The pre-action notice addressed to Dr. Agbomhere, a copy of which was sighted by Vanguard on Sunday, read:
“We act as Legal Practitioners for Honourable Mike Igini (hereinafter referred to as our client) and on whose instruction we write this protest and demand letter to you.
“In a Television interview aired by Arise Television and anchored by Dr. Rueben Abati on 29th of June, 2022 and subsequently relayed in several other news media platforms, you maliciously published to the whole world about our client as follows:
‘Mike Igini has abused the privilege of his office, he is partial/biased against the interest of APC in Akwa Ibom State, he is working for PDP in Akwa Ibom State, he is a ceremonial consultant to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in electoral matters, he has compromised the values of INEC, he is a hatchet man hired by the PDP to work for them in INEC, shamelessly defending the rights of political parties and that he lives in the Lodge of the Government of Akwa Ibom State….. that he has videos of him driving in and coming out.’
“The above malicious accusations published to the whole World have, ever since, been given unprecedented publicity and they constitute the most wicked attack on the towering image of our client, who over the years, has earned a deserved reputation in Nigeria and internationally as a forthright electoral umpire.
“Your said bogus allegations were hellish conjectures from the spiral imaginations of a mischief maker who neither have the fear of God nor regard for a man of probity in your misguided foray for ephemeral political power.
“As characteristic of unrepentant blackmailers, you threw caution to the wind, and in your frenzied efforts to disparage our Client without checking your facts, you did not know (and will be shocked to know) that our Client does not know where the Government Lodge of Akwa Ibom State is located and that our Client lives in the official quarters of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Uyo, and this is very well known to you.
“We have the instruction of our Client to challenge you or anyone else to post your taunted pictures and videos to the whole World.
“Our brief further confirmed, and this will even interest you to know that our Client has never visited the home of a human being, son or daughter or any individual in his home anywhere in Akwa Ibom State since he resumed as Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State in 2017 and your allegations of being a hatchet man for PDP in Akwa Ibom State, a ceremonial consultant to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in electoral matters, are misguided and reckless in extreme.
“We need you to recognize that the oath of office sworn to by our Client has remained his guiding rule and his insistence on compliance by political parties and candidates with the Law and Rules of INEC is for the overall benefits of our democratic practice where fraud, manipulations, sabotage and maneuvering of electoral guidelines are completely discouraged.
“Our Client’s principled stance against above vices, is in summary, the reason for your unjustifiable vituperations against him on a National Television. We shall hold you to your words at the appropriate forum and we hope you will not call friends and foes to beg for you when the “chips are down”.
“Consequently, we have been instructed by our Client to demand from you a retraction of the defamatory statements and an apology to be broadcast on Arise Television, Channels Television, AIT, TVC and to also be published on a full page in the Punch Newspapers, Guardian Newspapers, Vanguard Newspapers, Tribune Newspapers and Sunday Sun Newspapers within Forty-Eight (48) hours from the receipt of this letter.
“We also demand the modest sum of N1billion Naira from you as damages for the said defamatory statements.
“Take note that if you fail, refuse and or neglect to comply with the above demand within the stated period, we shall have no other option than to perfect our Client’s standing instructions against you”, the letter read.