Keystone bank: Group sues Atiku, demands N40m damages

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A group, the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) has sued the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, accusing him of defaming President Muhammadu Buhari and his family.

In the suit filed before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the plaintiff wants the court to order Atiku and his party to pay N40million damages for alleged libelous claims that Buhari and members of his family own substantial shares in 9mobile and Keystone Bank.

The president’s support group had two weeks ago threatened to sue Atiku and the PDP if within seven days they fail to provide proof of the said allegations against the first family

Atiku had, in a statement issued in Abuja last week by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, claimed the first family now plays big in the nation’s financial sector after acquiring mouthwatering shares in Keystone Bank with total assets of $1.916 billion (equivalent to N307.5 billion) as well as purchasing about ₦3 billion worth of shares in the new Pakistani Islamic Bank.
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In the suit, the plaintiff, the plaintiff also seeks declaration that “the 1st defendant (Phrank Shaibu) on behalf and for the 2nd defendant (Atiku) neglectfully, unlawfully and recklessly permitted and caused to be published in newspapers defamatory and damaging statements against the 1 st Plaintiff (President Buhari)”.

In its witness statement on oath made by its Director of Communication and Strategic Planning, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, the plaintiff stated that Atiku and his media aide allegedly engaged in smear campaign of calumny against by willfully allowing and sponsoring the said purported defamatory and image-damaging statements made by the 1 st Defendant to be published by some newspapers to members of the public.

It said President Buhari’s reputations was greatly affected by undue diligence with regards to the authenticity of the information as it relate to the true ownership of the alleged companies which the 1 st Defendant on behalf and for defendant falsely published in the newspapers for the consumption of the general public.

It further stated that: “The 2nd Defendant permitted and sponsored the 1 st Defendant, Mr. Phrank Shaibu to make and publish defamatory and damaging statement against the 1st plaintiff in order for 2nd defendant to get undue advantage in terms of votes from the member of the public more than the 1 st Plaintiff (Buhari), the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“The 2nd defendant, who is a Presidential Candidate of the People Democratic Party, hanged on this publications and using same on every campaign grounds to smear the person of the 1 st Plaintiff to his supporters and other members of the public.

“The 1st defendant as an agent to the 2nd Defendant who is freely accessible to members of the public for patronage on behalf the 2nd defendant, has the duty to investigate any information/ documents means to be issued out either by words of mouth or publication to the members of public, most particularly where such information concerned a third a party or any member of the public.

“The 1st defendant without investigating the authenticity of the purported defamatory information with intent to damage the reputation and integrity of the 1st Plaintiff caused to be published in the Newspapers.

‘’That the plaintiffs shall tendered two daily newspapers the Vanguard and Punch Newspapers both dated 27th December,2018 before the court during the hearing

The plaintiff further prayed the court to order “specific damages against the defendants N30million 000,000.00) as compensation for the financial loss the plaintiffs incurred due to the wrongful, neglectful and fraudulent acts of the defendants which forced the plaintiffs to spend to correct the wrong impression created in the minds of the members of the public due to the publication caused and published by the Defendants.

The plaintiffs also sought for general damages of N10m jointly and severally against the defendants for the embarrassment, pain and unnecessary financial loss suffered by the plaintiffs most particularly the 1st plaintiff who is a public figure, an honourable presidential candidate and reputable gentleman to the core”.

BCO further prayed for an order of the court “for the payment of N375,000,000 only being incidental expenses and/or legal charges which the 1st plaintiff incurred in respect of this matter”.

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