Tayo Busayo – A former House of Representatives member and Executive Chairman of Linas International, Prince Ned Nwoko, has threatened a court action against the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) over allegation of libellous statement.
Nwoko made this known in a letter addressed to the NGF through his lawyer, Onyeka Nwokolo.
According to Nwokolo, one of the alleged false and defamatory statements “which has been trending on the social media since Sunday, 21 August, 2022, authored by one Abdulrazque Bello-Barkindo, on behalf of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) alleged as follows:
“It is curious that in the introduction of himself, Mr. Ned Nwoko said nothing about his current status with the UK Law Society and the widely held belief that he was disbarred for fraudulent activities.”
According to the letter, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the director-general of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) was quoted to have said while responding to the issue surrounding the Paris Club refund, “It is curious that in the introduction of himself, Mr. Ned Nwoko said nothing about his current status with the UK Law Society and the widely held belief that he was disbarred for fraudulent activities.”
But Nwoko described the statement as untrue and a damage to his reputation.
He demanded that the NGF retract the libelous publication in two national daily newspapers with an apology within 48 hours of receiving the letter and pay the sum of $40,000,000 (forty million United States dollars) as compensation for the malicious, false and disparaging publications.
Attaching his practicing certificates for 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 legal years issued by the Solicitor Regulation Authority, in his letter to the NGF, Nwoko, said, “The above unguarded and unwarranted statement was issued by you, as part of the rebuttal of the very serious issues raised by our client about your refusal to fulfll obligations, including even commitments entered into in the court of law over the Paris Club Refunds.
“Your resort to unfounded and fabricated story to attack his person instead of responding to the issues is devious, wicked and libelous.
“Your quest is to damage his reputation, cast him as a devious, manipulative, dishonest and fraudulent person of questionable character, who is making claims against you. The implication and innuendos from the false allegations is to abuse the minds of the public and rouse public support against your refusal to pay his consultancy fees instead of addressing the issues in controversy.
“It is common knowledge that our client attended universities of Keele and Kings College, University of London, two world renowned institutions, where he obtained his first degree and masters. After his call to the English Bar, as member of the Lincoln’s Inn, he requalified as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.
“He had the rare fortune of establishing and growing one of the most successful law firms in Great Britain in the 1990s. By dint of due diligence and divine grace, he was adjudged by credible legal authorities in London as the best black Lawyer of African descent resident in the UK.
“Our client came back to Nigeria in 1999 to embrace an equally enchanting destiny, heading to the House of Representatives, Abuja, to represent his people – Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency, as the nation returned to multi-party democracy.
“Till date our client is proudly and happily in touch with his legal roots in Britain. He has his annual practicing certificates as a British lawyer. They don’t issue practicing certificates to anyone debarred from practice”, Nwoko said.
The former lawmaker wants the NGF to retract the libelous publication in two national daily newspapers with an apology within 48 hours of receiving the letter and pay the sum of $40,000,000 (forty million United States dollars) as compensation for the malicious, false and disparaging publications.
DAILY COURIER earlier reported that Nwoko, the lead consultant that facilitated the London and Paris Club refunds, had alleged that the NGF demanded and received the sum of $100 million to prosecute elections in some states.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Saturday, Nwoko had alleged that when he submitted a bill of $350 million as his consultancy fee, the state governors asked to be given 50 percent of it before it could be honored.
He said a former chairman of the forum had explained to him that the money was needed to prosecute elections in Bauchi, Ekiti, and Ondo states, adding that it was the Ministry of Justice that intervened before the governors eventually received the sum of $100 million.
Nwoko further said that his firm, Linas International, was being owed only $68 million not $418 million as claimed by the NGF.
But in its reaction to the claim by Nwoko, the NGF, in a statement issued by Bello-Barkindo, had said the governors were not involved in or been in receipt of $100m or any other funds from NED Nwoko to finance elections in any State.
According to the governors, facts on the alleged fraud associated with the Paris Club refunds can never be changed by a thousand Press Statements by the Minister of Justice and Attorney and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), or any of the Consultants.
The NGF charged Nwoko and other Consultants to end the media war and direct all energies towards defending the appeals, adding that as a body, it will not waste its valuable time to defend what it described as unsubstantiated allegations against individuals or persons who are in a position to defend themselves.