President Muhammadu Buhari and his campaign organization – the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) have asked Justice Binta Mohammed of the High Court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to dismiss the counter-claim made by the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar in a defamation suit pending against him.
President Buhari and BCO had on January 22, 2019 sued Atiku, accusing him of defaming Buhari and his family in a statement issued by his spokesman, claiming the President and his family acquired substantial shares in 9mobile and Keystone Bank with total assets of $1.916 billion (equivalent to N307.5 billion) and purchased about ₦3 billion worth of shares in the new Pakistani Islamic Bank.
But, upon being served with processes in the suit, Atiku, through his lawyers, filed a counter-claim in which he queried Buhari’s competence and sought to compel the President to pay him damages in the sum of N200 billion.
Atiku complained about what he called the rising insecurity in the country and the plight of victims of insurgents, democratic instability in the country and lopsided appointment in the country, which he blamed on the President.
In a fresh motion by the plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Abdulrazaq Ahmed, they argued that Atiku’s counter-claim, in which he challenged Buhari’s capacity and performance in office as the President could only be sustained in a separate suit.
The plaintiffs contended that Atiku ought to provide documentary evidence and proof to substantiate the false and defamatory claims made against Buhari and his family, “rather than leaving the substance to tackle the trash with a motion seeking to address an entirely different matter from the substantive suit.
“The defendant/counter-claimers claims against the 1st plaintiff (Buhari) based or on the question of the 1st plaintiff’s capacity and or performance in the office as Executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can only be sustained in a separate suit or proceeding filed by the defendant against the 1st plaintiff.”
The plaintiffs are, in the suit seeking damages against Atiku to the tune of N40m.
BCO, in its witness statement on oath deposed to by its Director of Communication and Strategic Planning, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, stated that Atiku and his media aide allegedly engaged in smear campaign of calumny against Buhari by willfully allowing and sponsoring the said purported defamatory and image-damaging statements to be published by some newspapers to members of the public.
Justice Binta Mohammed has adjourned further proceedings till April 8 this year.