FORMER Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, has dragged the National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South-South, Dr Cairo Ojougboh and the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, before an Abuja High Court over alleged statements published against him on issues relating to the Centenary City Project contract.
The plaintiff said in two separate writs of summon filed through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, that the separate publications credited to Ojougboh and Frank in some national dailies of July 13 and 15, 2015 respectively concerning his person and integrity were false, unfounded and libelous.
The former SGF said the publications were injurious to his reputation in his personal credit and character and official capacities as former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the former Senate President.
He is asking the court for an order directing the defendants to pay him one billion naira each representing general, aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages over, “embarrassment, public odium, derision, ridicule, obloquy, mental agony, psychological trauma,” which the publications have cause him.
Anyim submitted that the defendants maliciously concocted the story to mislead the public and the anti-corruption agencies with a view to clamping down on the Centenary City Project and destroy the public investment and faith in the project.
In his statement of claim against Ojuogboh, Anyim, in the suit N0 CV/2598/15, averred that he was rudely woken up by numerous calls on the morning of July 18, 2015 and urged to read the defendant’s comments on one of the national dailies of the same date with the screaming headline “Ojougboh alleges Ex-SGF, Anyim threatening his life”.
He further averred that on getting the publication, he found, to his utmost shock and bewilderment, that several libelous statements were made against his person by the defendant on page 15 of the said publication.
The former SGF added that before the said publication, he had experienced the same fate on Monday, July 13 when another national daily published a libelous statement against him, with the title, “Jonathan’s Centenary City is Crime Personified.”
Anyim, however wants the court to order Ojuogboh to make a full page written retraction of, and apology to him for the said offensive publication to be published in each of six major national dailies and that the court should also compel the defendants to write to him a letter of unreserved apology over the embarrassment which the said publication have caused him.
In addition, he wants an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from further publishing any libelous statement or alleging that the Nigeria Centenary City project, which was facilitated by him in his capacity as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation was and is a scam and fraud.
In his statement of claim against Frank in the suit marked CV/2599/15, Anyim averred that his attention was drawn recently to the libelous publication contained in the national dailies of Wednesday, February 4 at page 51 and headed “Open Letter to President Goodluck Jonathan” sponsored by Frank.
He also averred that the said letter credited to Frank, where he made some highly libelous and derogatory words which are injurious to the high reputation, that the plaintiff has built up over the years, adding that the defendant caused to be published with malice afore thought and intent to inflict maximum damage to his name, character and reputation.
In his particulars of malice, the plaintiff said the story was maliciously concocted to frustrate the Centenary City Project, and in particular, to scare away the foreign partners, as well as incite the investors and management’s of the Centenary City Project against him and lower him in their eyes.
He said since the libelous publication, he has been called by derogatory names, as “corrupt former SGF”, “419ner”, “criminal”, “fraudster”, among others.
According to him, Frank’s open letter to the former President Goodluck Jonathan reads, “that I bring to your notice yet again another case of gross conversion and corruption perpetrated by one of the most senior officials in your cabinet.
“It would be recalled that the Centenary City, which is supposed to be an initiative by the Federal Government, which had consistently maintained it needed a city to mark its hundred years of nationhood, and thus embarked on this phantom project occupying a whopping landmass of 3,000 hectares with an equity of four billion dollars, which has the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, as the masquerade behind the mask.”
Anyim had submitted that due process was followed from the beginning of the project till where it is at the present stage, adding that the various publications by the defendants were contrary to the real story of the Centenary City Project and steps taken to get to the present stage.
He, however, submitted that unless the court restrained the defendants by an order, they will continue to cause to be published, the same, or similar statement against the person of the plaintiff.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit which was filed on Friday.