Ex-Perm-Sec demands apology over defamatory publication

A former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Mohammed Kyari Dikwa, has written to the management of Peoples Gazette demanding public retraction and apology over an alleged defamatory story against him in the June 23, 2023 publication of the online platform.

The letter dated June 23 and titled, “Letter of claim: Defamatory words contained in your online publication of 23 June against Dr. Mohammed Kyari Dikwa and demand for immediate retraction, apology and compensation”,  was addressed to the Editor/Managing Editor of the Peoples Gazette by Mr. Edwin Inegedu, by counsel to Dr. Dikwa.

Dr. Dikwa’s Counsel said, “Our client’s attention has been drawn to your recent online publication, by one Ahmed Oluwasanjo, on June 23, 2023, titled: “Exclusive: Scavengers cart away $4 million from $76 million cash haul stockpiled in Abuja apartment by NDIC manager, Aisha Odariko, ex-perm sec Mohammed Kyari” which is making the rounds on social media  platforms including WhatsApp. 

“By your publication, which is widely circulated, you falsely and maliciously wrote and published defamatory words which referred to our client,  which has caused him considerable distress and embarrassment.”

Inegedu said, the allegations made against his client were false and that the online publication attack on the former Permanent Secretary was unjustified, malicious and callous adding that the publication was made deliberately to bring his client to ridicule, hatred and ruin.

“Despite that you know that there is no iota of truth in your prejudiced publication which smacks of sensationalism”, he said and pointed out that the only treasure Dr. Dikwa holds on to, is his impeccable character which he has built over the years and that, his rise to the position of a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service was predicated on his track record as evident in his selfless service to the nation and the public finance sector.

The lawyer said, the publication which is injurious, did not only assault his client’s reputation but was also  damaging, as several categories of people have been calling on him through personal visits, messages, e-mails, telephone etc challenging him on account of the publication, which they all read. 

The letter reads in parts, “Majorly, these persons are surprised that you alleged that our client has been involved in not only fraud and financial impropriety, but extra-marital liaison. No doubt, his professional integrity in the finance industry built over the years through dedicated hard work, and his private family life, has been besmirched.

“You would agree that the said publication was wholly an attempt to disparage our client and bring him to public odium. Since the publication of the libelous story, our client has been subjected to unquantifiable psychological, emotional and physical trauma.

“Our client is a well-respected elder statesman, a public finance expert and philanthropist, well known within and outside the boundaries of Nigeria for his dedication, hard work and unquestionable integrity in affairs bordering on public finance and accountability.”

Inegedu also said, it was the achievements of decades of industry and forthrightness of his client that the organisation tends to destroy overnight through a careless, prejudiced and one-sided publication.

Apart from demanding a full and unequivocal public retraction and apology in terms to be approved by his lawyer, the former permanent secretary, also demanded for an undertaking not to repeat the allegations. 

Inegedu gave the online platform a seven-day ultimatum to respond to the letter or be ready to face a legal action where-in his client shall claim exemplary damages in the sum of N10 billion for libel contained in the defamatory publication, an injunction restraining further publication in any manner whatsoever connected or related to the said or similar words defamatory to him, an order directing the retraction or cause to be retracted the said defamatory words in the same manner and form adopted in the publication of the defamatory words.

The lawyer told the Editor of the online platform that, if he fails to respond to the letter within seven days of receipt, he has the instructions of his client to file a legal action to also seek an order directing the online platform to tender an unreserved apology in at least three widely circulated national newspapers, and online media platforms, within 72 hours of the date of the delivery of judgment in the suit.

The letter described Dr Dikwa as a personality who has distinguished himself in both public and private sectors over the last couple of decades and owing to his impeccable character and integrity, he was appointed the federal permanent secretary, Special Duties, Federal Ministry of Finance in 2018, before his retirement in 2019.