The attention of leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law has been drawn to a lawsuit threat letter (for libel) addressed to the Management of Daar Communications Limited; owners of the African Independent Television (AIT) by solicitors of one Mr. Tinubu Ahmed over the former’s recent airing of a documentary alleging that the latter illicitly acquired and owned the following choice properties: Oriental Hotel, Falomo Shopping Complex, First Nation Airline, Private Jet, Lekki Concession Company, Apapa Amusement Park, the Renaissance Hotel, the Radio Continental, the TV Continental, the Nation Newspaper, Ikeja Shopping Mall, Alpha Beta (IGR collectors), ownership of Tejuoso Market, School of Nursing & NNPC buildings, N4B property located at the Queens Drive, Lagos and other choice properties worth billions of naira located within and beyond Lagos State allegedly acquired and owned illicitly by referenced Tinubu Ahmed. These, according to the referenced broadcast, have earned the referenced citizen a satirical name-“the Nigeria’s biggest landlord”. The law chambers and offices of frontline lawyers and rights activists in Lagos State were also said to have been quartered in some of the referenced illicit choice properties in the State.
Beyond The Threat Of Lawsuit: While the right of every Nigerian including the referenced potential libel litigant to approach a court of law in the event of any damage or harm to his or her name or reputation is constitutionally guaranteed; it is our considered view that the matter under reference goes beyond issuance of threat of lawsuit. By writing to the Management of AIT and threatening same with multi billion naira lawsuit of libel, the referenced Tinubu Ahmed is making Nigeria and Nigerians to believe that he is “Mr. Clean” who goes to the equity with clean hands. The referenced letter of his also demonstrates that he is stainless and impeccable in character as well as incorruptible; that from the time he was a top public office holder in Nigeria till date, he lived and still lives within his legitimate incomes including the spent and unspent legitimate allowances he was paid as a top public office holder. It further demonstrates that he has never stolen or criminally diverted public funds for private possession or ownership; and that his present incomes and properties (if any) are in commensuration with pieces of information contained in his asset declaration form filled and submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau when he contested for the said public office in 1999.
Our informed questions are: are these properties exist in the country and in areas they are said to be located? If they exist, who acquired and own them? How much did the referenced Tinubu Ahmed worth in 1999 as declared and known to the Code of Conduct Bureau and how much does he worth today? As a former top public office holder from 1999 to 2007, what was his total salaries and allowances in accordance with relevant provisions of the Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders Act of the Federation of Nigeria 2002 as amended in 2008?
To instruct private solicitors to cause a letter of threat of lawsuit of libel to be addressed to a media outfit is not enough because sometimes court processes are used to cover social ills and intimidate whistle blowers to unceremonious silence and submission. This explains why we held that the reference matter goes beyond issuance of letter of threat of lawsuit of libel. The referenced Tinubu Ahmed owes Nigerians detailed and convincing public explanations, not just mere threat of lawsuit or lawsuit proper.
For Nigerians to be convinced that the referenced citizen is clean, incorruptible and impeccable and knows nothing directly or indirectly about the grave allegations under reference, he should come clean publicly and deny publicly too that he has nothing to do with the properties under reference directly or indirectly. The referenced citizen also owes Nigerians moral and legal obligations by publicly disclosing the totality of his legitimate salaries and allowances or those known to the law and Constitution of Nigeria from June 1999 to May 2007 when he held sway as a top public office holder. The public disclosures being demanded will include how much he collected as severance allowances; how much he spent of the entire salaries and allowances in eight years as well as the remainder and their whereabouts till date. Part of the public disclosures will be to mention and identify company or companies and properties (if any) he owned prior to 1999 and their locations as well as those under his name and ownership from 2007 till date. The public disclosure of pre 1999 properties/companies (if any) should also include accrued profits and losses till date.
It is only when the foregoing is dutifully, convincingly and publicly disclosed by the referenced Tinubu Ahmed that Nigerians will agree beyond further doubts that he is indeed Mr. Clean and an equity seeker with clean hands. Also if the foregoing is done as publicly being demanded, the Management of AIT will bury its head in shame and lose its teeming viewers and supporters; even though the grave allegations were first made in 2012 by then Vice Chairman for Southwest (Segun Oni) of one of the registered political parties in Nigeria called PDP (source: Frontier News 2012). But if the contrary becomes the case, then Nigerians will be left with no other option than to assert conclusively and rightly that the allegations do not lack in substance.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc. (Hons) Criminology & Security Studies
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
+2348174090052, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Esq., Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program