Amaechi demands N1.25bn, public apology from Fani-Kayode, Fayose’s aide
MINISTER of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, is demanding public apology and a combined total of N1.25 billion from a predecessor-in-office, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and Lere Olayinka, media aide to Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, for linking him with the N15 billion cash recovered from an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The cash haul, which had been confiscated by the Federal Government through a court order, was discovered and recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last week.
Since the recovery, the identity of the owner had been mired in controversy, with Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, publicly claiming ownership on behalf of the state.
He alleged that Amaechi, his predecessor-in-office, looted the said money from the coffers of the state for election purposes in 2015.
The same allegation was repeated by Fani-Kayode and Olayinka on their social media platforms.
Amaechi, however, denied having anything to do with the controversial cash.
Making his demand on both Fani-Kayode and Olayinka through his lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, Amaechi gave the duo seven days to retract the claim of his alleged ownership, make public apology in five national newspapers and pay him the demanded damages or risk litigation for defamation.
Addressing the former minister, Fagbemi said “we observe that as a lawyer, you ought to know that anyone who desires to know who owns any property, especially in a world-class land documentation system and facilities like Lagos State, should avail himself of the facilities by conducting a diligent search in the Land Registry.
“You intentionally failed to do so as to achieve your malicious aim. For the umpteenth time, let it be known that our client, Honourable Rotimi Amaechi, has no house anywhere in Lagos.
“Your twitter rant of April 14, 2014, at 4:16 was viewed by your 316,000 followers, re-tweeted 1,209 times and made a favourite by 434 followers as of the time of writing this letter today, at 7:15 p.m and the list is increasing by the minute and same has satisfied the condition needed for a successful defamation case against you.
“As a matter of fact, the media has been awash with the news since you made your claim. In view of the foregoing and in the spirit of second chance, we have our client’s instruction to give you an ultimatum of seven days from the receipt of this letter to issue an apology in five national dailies and your twitter handle.
“Your apology, which should be heartfelt, must be a total withdrawal of your claim and its imputations must also contain an expression of deep regret for the unwarranted attack and contain a complete retraction of the false statement of yours.
“We also demand from you the sum of N500 million as compensation for the malicious and defamatory claim. Please, note that the demand may increase with time if you fail to address the situation as expected. Failure to do any of these would be met with stiff legal actions which your defamatory act deserves.”
For Olayinka, Amaechi claimed that his 12,000 followers on his twitter handle where he alleged that he knew about the cash and had an amorous relationship with one Mo Abudu, among others who read the claim on Olayinka’s twitter handle, must have viewed him as adulterous and unfaithful in his “one man, one wife” marriage.
Amaechi said “he is a noble man who is faithful to his marriage without any girlfriend anyway.”
While condemning Olayinka’s alleged reckless statement, the minister said he was ready to give him a second chance like Fani-Kayode, giving the media aide the same conditionality to escape litigation for defamation.
However, while Fani-Kayode was asked to pay N500 million, Olayinka was being slammed with N750 million damages.
The camp of Fani-Kayode, while reacting, said no complaint had been received from the minister, adding that “be rest assured that we would get our lawyers for firm and appropriate response when we get their letter.”
Also, a text message to the Nigerian Tribune by Fani-Kayode’s media aide, Jude Ndukwe, read: “we have been inundated with calls concerning a threat by Rotimi Amaechi to sue Chief Fani-Kayode for defamation of character over $43 million issue. We are not losing any sleep over this matter. We have not received any court processes or letters from Amaechi but when we do so, our lawyers will respond vigorously and appropriately.”
Also reacting, Olayinka said he had not received any letter neither had he been contacted by anyone in that regard.
Olayinka, in a telephone conversation, said he was “yet to be briefed by any lawyer and, therefore, cannot react in detail yet to the content of the said letter.”