Justice Valentine Ashi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court has fixed July 28 to commence hearing on the N20 billion libel suit instituted against former President Olusegun Obasanjo by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the South-West, Mr. Buruji Kashamu.
This came as the duo engaged in a fresh war-of-words, with the plaintiff alleging before the court that the erstwhile President was a school dropout.
Piqued by the fact that Obasanjo in his statement of defence to the suit, described him as “a drug pusher with neither local nor international reputation”, Kashamu fired back, calling the ex-president “a social misfit.”
“The plaintiff acknowledges that the defendant (Obasanjo),was a poverty-stricken dropout from school and otherwise a social misfit who eventually found fame and fortune by joining the Armed Forces of Nigeria and benefitting disproportionately from opportunism of military adventure into governance in Nigeria.”
Kashamu told the court that “Obasanjo’s vaunted international acclaim was tested in 2008 when the former President contested for the position of the Secretary-General of the United Nations with a barely known diplomat from Egypt. The defendant (Obasanjo) was put in his place as he failed to fly the flag of the nation successfully and lost the contest disgracefully.”
Kashamu insisted that Obasanjo’s claims in his statement of defence constituted “an aggravation of the libel charge before the court.”
He said Obasanjo’s use of his “touted national and international acclaim to malign more productive members of the society is uncalled for and could be symptomatic of megalomania.”
Meanwhile, the former President who had earlier resolved not to personally testify in the matter, had in his statement of defence, described Kashamu as a notorious debtor and a man lacking in local and international reputation.
He urged the court to dismiss the suit for being “frivolous, speculative and gold digging”, insisting that no reasonable cause of action was established against him.
Kashamu had in his suit, claimed that Obasanjo, ‘murdered’ his reputation via a letter he (Obasanjo), sent to both President Goodluck Jonathan and the immediate past National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
Kashamu told the court that the defendant, maliciously and recklessly published a letter titled, “Before it is too late,” which he said contained distorted facts.
He argued that the criminal imputation made against him by Obasanjo in his letter, greatly injured his public image.
He prayed the court to award in his favour, and against the ex-President, N20 billion for the damage suffered as a result of the allegation.
The plaintiff told the court that the former president specifically referred to him in the said letter as a fugitive wanted in the United States.
However, in his statement of defence, Obasanjo stood his ground, saying he had no reason to retract the words in the said letter as requested by Kashamu.
“The statement/words are correct, true and justified”, he maintained, adding, “The plaintiff has no iota of good reputation locally and internationally.
“Aside the plaintiff’s illicit drug business for which he was indicted and wanted in America, the plaintiff has penchant for taking loans from unsuspecting banks/financial institutions with intention to permanently elude/avoid repayment or liquidation of such loans.
“Further to that, the plaintiff has been judicially adjudged/confirmed a debtor by a competent court of law in Cotonou, Republic of Benin. And the plaintiff presently occupies a choice position on the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria’s list of notorious bad debtor.” [Vanguard]