The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has written a litigation threat to the PUNCH (Nig) Limited (Publishers of PUNCH Newspapers), asking it to retract an allegedly libelous publication against the Acting Chairman of the commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu. The EFCC is also demanding an unreserved apology from The PUNCH over what it describes as defamatory publication against Magu.
In a letter addressed to the Managing Editor/ Editor- In- Chief of the paper, Mr. Ademola Osinubi, and signed by its Secretary, Mr. Ola Olukoyede, the EFCC described as libellous, vexatious, defamatory and damaging, a piece written by Abimbola Adelakun on Magu on March 5, 2020 and entitled: “The Real Trouble With Magu”.
The letter was dated March 6, 2020 while it was received by The PUNCH on March 17, 2020.
According to Olukoyede, Magu, as a substantive Commissioner of Police and internationally recognized Anti- corruption czar” and who ” has discharged his responsibilities with absolute dedication and resourcefulness” does not deserve ” reckless use of libellous and defamatory words by Abimbola Adelakun”.
The Secretary to the Commission is therefore demanding ” a retraction of the libellous words and tendering of unreserved apology in a conspicuous place in your newspaper within seven days”.
Olukoyede further listed several libellous words contained in Adelakun’s piece and warned that the EFCC would not hesitate to commence litigation against The PUNCH, if the two demands of retraction and apology are not met within the stipulated time.
Adelakun, a columnist with The PUNCH, in the offensive piece, raised several parochial issues against Magu. The piece, which reeked of malice, bitterness and direct attacks on the EFCC Chairman sought to portray him as incompetent, unprofessional and undeserving of his appointment.
But in a swift reaction, the Special Adviser to the EFCC Chairman on Media & Publicity, Mr Tony Amokeodo, took up issues with her and knocked the bottom off her insinuations.
In a Right of Reply widely carried by several newspapers, including The PUNCH , Amokeodo stressed that, “It may be appropriate to ask: What does Abimbola Adelakun know about financial and economic crimes in the first instance? What does she know about investigation of such crimes? How equipped is she to know whether Mr. Magu got his job on merit or not? What empirical facts are available to her to evaluate the performance of the EFCC’s boss on his job? Is Abimbola Adelakun more adequately informed about law enforcement and anti- corruption fight than the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, Metropolitan Police, Scotland Yard, International Police and other global agencies that have always scored the EFCC under Magu’s watch highly? Is the ability to string sentences together in the name of column writing enough competence for her to primitively adjudge a crack detective like Mr. Magu unfit for his job?
Olukoyede further disclosed that The PUNCH and Adelakun will have to prove in court, the justification for the libelous and defamatory words against the EFCC boss.
The letter reads in part, “ For the avoidance of doubt, Adelakun’s usage of defamatory and libelous words have damaged the integrity of Mr Magu in the eyes of Nigerians and outside world.
“Magu has no plans—from now to the unforeseeable future—to sharpen himself. And there is the real trouble with him: he did not get his job on merit, he knows his assessment for his continued fit for that office is not based on superior achievements and, therefore, he has no motivation whatsoever to improve his intellect.”
“There are gazillion books on corruption out there for him to read and understand what corruption is, not only within the local Nigerian milieu but also as a global phenomenon. Nothing about Magu’s rant demonstrates that he has ever cared to develop an abstract understanding of corruption.”
“We therefore demand a retraction of the libelous words and tendering of unreserved apology in conspicuous place in your newspaper within seven days.
“Please note that the Commission will not hesitate to commence litigation without recourse to you if our demands are not met within the stipulated time.”