Fireworks were being thrown yesterday between the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Mohammed and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Olisa Metuh.

Both spokesmen for the ruling and main opposition party are locked in a battle over an alleged defamatory and libelous statement credited to Metuh.

In a letter written by his counsel, Wahab Shittu on September 22, 2015, titled: “Demand for unreserved apology, retraction and N500 million compensation over defamation of character”, Lai Mohammed  alleged that the PDP spokesperson defamed him in a press release issued on September 20. The APC chieftain said Metuh “willfully and maliciously made false, destructive and defamatory statements,” against him in the following words:

“Nevertheless, as we restate our commitment in providing issue-based opposition as well as our support for the fight against corruption, our final word for the APC spokesman on this, is that being ethically challenged, includes embezzling funds meant for fencing of an airport in an APC-led Southwest states. It also includes when one fraudulently refuse to supply ambulances after collecting monies from another APC South West State.

[pull_quote_center]“It is then a comedy of roles when Alhaji Lai Mohammed speaks on corruption, a topic he practices and has well learnt, being a personal aide to one of the most corrupt politicians to ever bestride the political landscape of the country.”[/pull_quote_center]

Mohammed said the statements as published by Metuh are “utterly false and without merit, and they are defamation per se.”
The APC chieftain also said by the publication, Metuh has portrayed him as a fraudster, a man who must not be entrusted with money, a man of dubious character, corrupt and an economic saboteur.”

He denied that any of his companies had ever been involved in any alleged embezzlement of funds meant for the fencing of any airport or in contract for supplying ambulance for any state government including Southwest states.

In what could be described as bold demands, Mohammed asked Metuh for a retraction or public apology within seven days and to cease further defamation of his character and reputation. He also demanded for  N500 million  as damages for the “unquantifiable damage done to his reputation and integrity.”

But in a swift response through his lawyer, Emeka Etiaba, (SAN), Metuh said he will not accede to any of the demands made by Mohammed as he never made reference to Mohammed in his press release nor insulted anybody insisting the statement was made in national interest.

In a letter dated September 25, and signed by Etiaba, Metuh also alleged that Mohammed in his response to the press statement had made “unprovoked vituperations” against him in the following words:

“ The party said that for the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary himself, the persistent onslaught against the Buhari administration is neither altruistic nor informed by any belief in higher values, because the allegations of corruption hanging on his neck, from within his own party, is a clear indication that he is mortally afraid that the wind will soon blow hard enough to expose the fowl’s rump.

“May we therefore assure you that our client does not intend to accede to any of your demands”, Emeka wrote in the reply for his client.

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