Defamation: Wait Till 2018 Before You Can Sue Me, Fayose Replies Aisha Buhari

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Ayo Fayose-Aisha BuhariGovernor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has advised the wife of the president, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, to drop the threat to sue him for defamation of character because by virtue of Section 308 of the constitution, he cannot be taken to court until he is no longer in office.

Recall that in a letter dated June 22, 2016, Mrs. Buhari had in a letter to the governor through her counsel, Mary Ekpere & Co, demanded retraction of Fayose’s statement that she was involved in the Halliburton scandal, and threatened legal action if the retraction was not made within five days.

However, in a response dated July 8, 2016, Governor Fayose said through his counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), that he could only be sued after October, 16, 2018, when his tenure as governor elapses.

“Your attention is also hereby drawn to Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered, on the immunity enjoyed by our client from civil or criminal proceedings for the period that he occupies the office of the governor of Ekiti State,” the letter said.

“You may therefore advise your client to wait until after 16th October, 2018, when our client’s tenure expires. When that happens, we shall join issues with your client in a competent court of law, in the event that your client does not have a change of heart”.

RELATED: Retract Your Allegations Or Face Lawsuit- Aisha Buhari Tells Fayose

In the letter, Mr. Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, insisted the statement made by his client regarding the involvement of Mrs Aisha Buhari in the Halliburton scandal was “correct and justified in law, having regards to a court judgment convicting one Mr William Jefferson for bribery in the Halliburton case”.

The governor stuck to his guns in spite of clarifications by two former chairmen of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that the Aisha Buhari mentioned in the Jefferson bribery case was different from the wife of the current Nigerian president.

However, Mr. Ozekhome said “the statement by Governor Fayose was correct and justified, having been factually premised on an existing court judgment”.

The letter reads; “Our client has referred to us your letter dated 22nd June, 2016, on alleged defamation of the character of your client, Her Excellency, Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, with firm instructions to reply to and reject same in its entirety.

“Our client states and reaffirms categorically that the statement he made as regards the involvement of Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of President Buhari, in the Halliburton scandal, is correct and justified in law; having regards to a court judgment convicting one Mr William Jefferson for bribery in the Halliburton case.

“Therein, the name of the President’s wife featured conspicuously. At page 22 of the said judgment delivered by the United State District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, USA, in criminal No 1: 07CR209, the said Mr William Jefferson was sentenced at 9.00 am on November 13, 2009, by Mark D, Lytle. Your client, Mrs Aisha Buhari was specifically mentioned in the judgment. The judge referred to Exhibits 36-87 in the following words, for clarification;

“See also Government Exhibits 36-87 (6/26/02 $170,000 wire transfer from account in Nigeria in the name of Aisha Buhari to an account in the name of The ANJ Group, LLC, identifying “William Jefferson” as Beneficiary)… Given the age of the defendant, the severity of the sentence calculated by the Probation Office, the defendant’s frequent travel overseas and unexplained wire transfers from overseas locations to financial accounts used by the defendant, the defendant cannot rebut the presumption at sentencing that he is a risk of flight.

“The said Williams Jefferson is currently serving a jail term in the USA and to the best of our client’s knowledge; this judgment has not been challenged, or set aside by any Appellate court of law anywhere in the world.

“The statement of His Excellency, our client, is therefore correct and justified, same having been factually premised on an existing court judgment above referred to.

“Your attention is also hereby drawn to Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered, on the immunity enjoyed by our client from civil or criminal proceedings for the period that he occupies the office of the governor of Ekiti State.

“You may therefore advise your client to wait until after 16th October, 2018, when our client’s tenure expires. When that happens, we shall join issues with your client in a competent court of law, in the event that your client does not have a change of heart”.

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