By Yemi Adebowale
Two weeks after his lawyers issued a ‘cease and desist’ letter to online newspaper Sahara Reporters, former Minister of State for Defence and newly confirmed Ministerial nominee, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro has sued the media outfit and its publisher, Mr. Omoyele Sowore in New York, United States of America for defamation.
Tacopina & Seigel, Senator Obanikoro’s US attorneys had issued a ‘cease and desist’ letter to Sahara Reporters urging the media outfit to desist from further defaming Obanikoro and retract its earlier defamatory publications on the purported Ekiti audio recording, none to which Sahara Reporters complied.
In a suit filed on behalf of Senator Obanikoro at the Supreme Court of the State of New York dated 9th March 2015 by Tacopina & Seigel, the former Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana is seeking legal redress to the tune of a minimum of $5 million.
According to the suit with Index No: 152332/2015, the nature of this court action is for defamation arising from false and disparaging statements credited to the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore during a February 14, 2015 “Sit Out” and on the Sahara Reporters website;
“First, that Senator Musiliu Obanikoro “has killed many people in Lagos state” and is a murderer.”
“And secondly, that the Sahara Reporters’ website has an audio recording of a purported meeting between Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, Governor Ayo Fayose, Ge. Aliyu Momoh and others that allegedly evidences that: (a) soldiers were paid with a “huge stash of cash” to rig an election in Ekiti; (b) Gen. Momoh was bribed “for his assistance in carrying out election fraud in Ekiti”; (c) “Governor Fayose revealed that he had already bribed an official”; (d) there was “forging in INEC ballots”; and (e) the military prevent[ed] APC voters from reaching the polls.”
The relief sought is monetary damages (both compensatory and punitive) to be determined at trial, but for no less than $5,000,000, as well as prejudgment interest, and the costs and disbursements of this action.
Hearing is yet to commence in the Nigerian case filed by Senator Obanikoro against Sahara Reporters at the Ikeja High Court, Lagos where he is also seeking damages to the tune of N1 billion.
ORIGINAL COURT DOCUMENTS BELOW