By Ovie Okpare
The Chairman, Senate House Committee on Niger Delta and senator representing Delta North Senatorial District in Delta State, Mr. Peter Nwaoboshi, has instituted a one billion naira (N1billion) libel suit against the Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Mrs. Lauretta Onochie.
Nwaoboshi, in the case filed by his lawyer, Mr. Daniel Bwala at an Abuja High Court on Monday, claimed that the presidential aide defamed his hard earned reputation with a post on her Facebook where she called him a thief as well as embezzling funds by collecting contracts from the NDDC without executing them.
The lawmaker in the suit marked: CU/1827/2020 is also praying for an order of the court directing Lauretta Onochie, to publicly apologise to him for the alleged false and misleading publication against him.
The PDP senator, who had earlier written to Onochie demanding retraction of the publication within 24hours, urged the court to award N1billion to him against the defendant for general damages the said publication had caused him.
A copy of the suit was obtained by our correspondent on Monday in Abuja.
Onochie had in a post on Facebook account on June 8, 2020, said, “I was at an event in his home town when he spoke in our Anioma language, declaring himself a thief. I am an Ada Anioma. I was raised in Anioma land. We do not take what belongs to others, let alone pride ourselves in being thieves.
“But we elected him to be our representative. Didn’t we. In 2023, he would be our deputy governor had President Buhari not ordered a Forensic Audit to clean up the NDDC.
“All those talks about Lauretta Onochie is not dishing out cash is because I’m not a thief. You should be proud of me. I am proud of me.
“All those talks about Peter Nwaoboshi being a nice man for stealing your billions and giving you a pittance, the chicken has come home to roost.”
However, following the expiration of the 48hours ultimatum given to the President Buhari social media aide, filed the suit demanding the order of the court also restraining Onochie or her agents from further publishing defamatory article against him.
Nwaoboshi is praying the court among others for, “A declaration that the defendant’s post/publication of June 8, 2020 posted/published on her Facebook page Lauretta Onochie captioned: “NDDC: The Chicken Comes Home To Roost”, amounts to libel.
“An order of this Honourable Court awarding the sum of N1,000,000,000.00 (One Billion Naira) only, to the claimant as general damages against the defendant.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, her agents, servants, privies and any other person howsoever described, acting for and on her behalf, from further publishing/posting any other false and damaging publication in respect of the claimant.
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“An order of this Honourable Court directing the defendant to publicly apologise to the claimant for the said false and misleading publication/post of June 8th, 2020 and any other publication/post on her other social media platforms against the claimant.”
Meanwhile, the Abuja High Court has ordered Nwaoboshi and Onochei to maintain status quo pending the determination of the case.
No date has been fixed for hearing of the case.