Emefiele threatens to sue Akpabio for N25bn over alleged defamation

Central Bank of Nigeria CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele
Godwin Emefiele

Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele has demanded apology from the Senate President Godswill Akpabio over alleged defamation else he would sue him for N25 billion damages.

Mr Emefiele’s threat came in a letter through his lawyer, Mathew Burkaa (SAN), addressed to Akpabio, after the Senate President said on Sunday in Rivers State that Emefiele’s crimes were so many that President Bola Tinubu’s administration did not know which to charge him with.

The ex-CBN governor has now demanded an apology in written form and published in the media else he would go to court.

In the letter dated February 19 and made available to the press on Wednesday, Emefiele claimed that the interpretation of Akpabio’s comment meant that he is a serial offender whose action is responsible for all the hardship experienced by Nigerians.

The letter said, “We are solicitors to Dr. Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (hereinafter referred to as ‘Our Client’), on whose brief and instruction, we write this letter. The above statement, whether taken in their ordinary, figurative, or literal meaning portrayed our Client as:

“The cause of the entire hardship in Nigeria today is as a result of the policies of the previous administration.

“A serial offender whose action is responsible for all the hardship experienced by Nigerians today.

“A person who has committed offences that are so numerous that the government is confused as to which of the offences to prefer a charge against him.”

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Emefiele noted that Akpabio’s comments undermined the integrity of the court and its independence, adding that it was detrimental to his ongoing trial.

He said, “As the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you certainly know, or have reasons to know that the Federal Government of Nigeria had since August 14, 2023, preferred charges against our client to which he had long pleaded not guilty and is presently defending same to exonerate himself and show that he is not guilty of the said allegations. It is therefore disturbing, that such a statement would be made by the Head of the Legislature of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on a matter that is clearly subjudice.

“Your statement, with the greatest respect, clearly undermines the honour and integrity of the Court and its independence and indeed has the propensity of prejudicing the case against Our Client. Having submitted to the jurisdiction of the Court, it is only fair and proper that the Court should be allowed to determine the issues submitted to it without unnecessary pressure from any other arm of Government.”

The former CBN governor noted that without the approval of the president and/or the Federal Executive Council of which Akpabio was a member, he could have done nothing on his own.

Emefiele said, “It is pursuant to the above and without delving into the matter presently pending in Court that Our Client has instructed that we write to Your good offices and demand the immediate retraction of Your statement which has gone viral and is considered defamatory of Our Client

“These baseless and false allegations defame the character of Our Client and have also caused him great pains and embarrassment as it has lowered his esteem before the right-thinking members of the Society in addition to the obvious odium and opprobrium from the unsuspecting members of the Society as a result of the falsity contained in that statement.

“We, therefore have Our Client’s further instruction to demand from you an unreserved apology in writing, published and circulated by the same medium with which you have defamed his character, and the sum of N25,000,000,000 as reasonable compensation for the willful and unjustifiable denigration of his hard-earned reputation. If you fail, refuse, or neglect to comply with this legitimate demand, Our Client will be at liberty to seek the appropriate redress available to him under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”