…cautions journalists against ‘jump bail’ tag
By Biodun Busari
The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu has demanded an unreserved apology letter from the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami for defamation and libel that he jumped bail in 2017.
He went further to ask that the said apology letter should be published in two national dailies, as well as demanding N20 billion for damages.
This was contained in a letter dated 21st November, 2022 signed by Kanu’s Special Counsel, Aloy Ejimakor and addressed to Malami.
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It was entitled, “RE: PRE-ACTION NOTICE AND FORMAL DEMAND FOR SETTLEMENT OF THE CLAIM OF DEFAMATION/LIBEL OF THE CHARACTER OF MAZI NNAMDI KANU GROUNDED ON YOUR FALSE, DEFAMATORY AND LIBELOUS PUBLICATIONS THAT MAZI NNAMDI KANU JUMPED BAIL.”
Ejimakor claimed Malami in several publications had said Kanu jumped bail in 2017. He quoted the Justice Minister as saying, “Let me talk first of the rule of law.
“This is someone that has been granted bail on account of charges that have been preferred against him at the court. Someone jumping bail to international community, a case of fugitive is established against the background of jumping the bail.”
Reacting to Malami’s statement, Ejimakor said, “In view of the said Judgment of the Abia State High Court, your above utterances were false, malicious and reckless and they were read and heard worldwide and portrayed our Client in the following light:
“A person who obstructs the course of justice by jumping bail.
“A deceitful and dodgy person who obtained bail by false pretences and the intention of jumping it.
“An untrustworthy person, who is morally depraved and undeserving of the favourable discretions of the court.
“An irresponsible person that has no regard for the sanctity of being granted bail.
“To be sure, your said libelous utterances were circulated and read by millions of people around the world, particularly in Abia State and Nigeria where our Client has many friends, family, colleagues, admirers, mentees, well-wishers and millions of followers.
“Your said libelous publications have seriously injured our Client’s character, credit, reputation and integrity. You have by your defamatory actions brought our Client to scandal, contempt, odium, public humiliation and embarrassment for which he is entitled to monetary damages, injunctive relief and apology.”
Kanu’s demands from Malami
He further said, “In view of the foregoing, our Client claims against you in the following particulars:
“The sum of N20,000,000,000.00 (Twenty Billion Naira only) being general and exemplary damages.
“An unreserved personal letter of apology, to be prominently and boldly published full-page in two Nigerian Newspapers of national circulation, namely: Guardian Newspaper and Sun Newspaper.
“You shall write and deliver to your superior officer(s) and/or your employer(s) a Legal Opinion to the effect that our Client did not jump bail in view of the 19th January 2022 Judgment of the High Court of Abia State.”
The IPOB leader, therefore, threatened to drag Malami to court if he refuses to honour his demands.
He said, “The foregoing demands are without prejudice to other options or terms for settlement that you may counter-propose in response to this Letter. We, therefore, request that, with a view to settling this claim out of court, you respond to this Letter by Legal Mail (to the email on this Letterhead) within three (3) days of the receipt of this Letter. In the event that you fail to do so, our Client shall immediately commence legal proceedings against you without any further notice.”
Media houses cautioned on ‘jump bail’ tag
Also, Ejimakor cautioned the media houses to not publish that Kanu jumped bail in their reports.
The lawyer said this in another statement titled, “ALL MEDIA OPERATORS (PRINT AND ELECTRONIC) AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC IN NIGERIA MUST CEASE AND DESIST FORTHWITH FROM ANY FURTHER PUBLICATIONS STATING OR PURPORTING THAT MAZI NNAMDI KANU JUMPED BAIL.”
He said, “In view of the foregoing, our Client hereby respectfully demands (and states) as follows:
“That media operators, members of the media and all and sundry must henceforth cease and desist from uttering or otherwise causing any further publications stating or purporting that our Client jumped bail.
“Without prejudice to the right of the media to inform, our Client will not hesitate to take vigorous legal actions (civil and criminal) against any person(s) and entity uttering or otherwise causing any such defamatory publications. And he shall do so without any further legal notice.
“This Legal Notice is issued in rem and is deemed served and received once it is published in any form, whether in whole or in part, in any mass medium (electronic or print) in wide circulation in Nigeria; or sent by electronic or surface mail to any of their legal addresses or their assigns or privies.
“For avoidance of any doubt, this Legal Notice is without prejudice to our Client’s vested rights; and if the occasion arises, the Notice shall be deemed the statutory Pre-Action Notice required under any pertinent Federal or State law, more particularly under Order 3, Rule 2(1)(f) of the High Court of Abia State (Practice and Procedure) Rules, 2021.
“In the interim, while we most sincerely thank all media operators and the general public for their prompt cooperation in the regards and demands of this Legal Notice, we wish to also assure all and sundry of our highest regards for the pivotal constitutional role the media plays in our society.”