The National Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Mohammed has sued his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Olisa Metuh, at the Lagos State High Court for alleged libel.
Mr. Mohammed is seeking N500 million damages from the PDP spokesman for authoring and issuing a “malicious” press statement that was injurious to his reputation.
The claimant, through his lawyer, Mr. Wahab Shittu, said the PDP spokesman wrote and widely circulated a press statement on September 20, which contained libellous materials, entitled: “Assault on democracy: ‘Address issues’ – PDP replies APC… Insists democracy sliding under Buhari”.
In the statement, Metuh described Mohammed as “being ethically challenged” and “embezzling funds meant for fencing of an airport in an APC-led Southwest state”.
The PDP spokesman also accused his APC counterpart of “fraudulently refusing to supply ambulances after collecting money from another APC Southwest state”.
The statement added: “It is then a comedy of roles when Alhaji Lai Mohammed speaks on corruption, a topic he practices and has well learnt, being personal aide to one of the most corrupt politicians to ever bestride the political landscape of the country”.
Mohammed, a lawyer and former National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) member, served as public relations officer and later corporate secretary at the Nigeria Airport Authority between 1985 and 1988; and as chief of staff to former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu from 1999 to 2002, among others.
Mohammed said he distinguished himself meritoriously and without any blemish in all the positions and responsibilities he held over the years.
He, therefore, prayed for an order directing the defendant to publish an apology to him and retract the libelous material in a widely read newspaper for seven consecutive days.
He also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the PDP spokesman, his cronies, or any newspaper/magazine from further publishing or disseminating the libelous materials or something similar.
The claimant said Metuh “wilfully and maliciously made false, destructive and defamatory statements” designed to inflict damage on his reputation and goodwill and expose him to public opprobrium.
The allegations, Mohammed said, were unsubstantiated as neither him nor any of his companies ever embezzled funds meant for fencing of an airport or was involved in a contract to supply ambulances to any Southwest state and any other state.
“The claimant avers that the libellous publication against his person by the defendant is designed to damage irreparably the reputation of the claimant, lower his esteem in the estimation of right-thinking members of the society as well as expose him to shame, ridicule and public embarrassment”, Mohammed said.
He added that by the “defamatory words”, Metuh was implying that he (Mohammed) is a fraudster, a man who must not be entrusted with money, a man of dubious character, a corrupt person and an economic saboteur.
The APC spokesman, who is a ministerial nominee, said the publication has “seriously” damaged his personal and professional reputation and caused him considerable pain, distress and embarrassment, resulting in his suffering loss of esteem.
Metuh, through his lawyer, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), in response to a letter by Mohammed demanding an apology, stated that the APC spokesman earlier accused his PDP counterpart of having “allegations of corruption hanging on his neck from his own party”.
But Mohammed said his statement against Metuh arose from a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and was “not a conclusion of guilt against the defendant in respect of those allegations for which the defendant is required to clear himself”.
Metuh is expected to defend the suit which was filed on October 8.