ONDO 2020: Lawyer Emodamori sues ZLP for Defamation, Demands 1 Billion Naira
Our Ref: FEE/GEN/ZLP/9/20 10th September, 2020
The National Chairman, Zenith Labour Party Plot 73, Ladoja AkintolaSuit 206 Dabo PlazaGarki, AbujaDear Sir, DEMAND FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLIC APOLOGY IN TWO NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS AND PAYMENT OF N1, 000, 000, 000 (ONE BILION MILLION) AS DAMAGES FOR DEFAMATION OF MY CHARACTER.
You would recall that on September 1, 2020, I had written a letter to the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), demanding that the Commission publish the personal particulars submitted by Hon. Alfred Agboola Ajayi (the incumbent Deputy-Governor of Ondo State), as the candidate of the Zenith Labour Party (Z.L.P) for the Ondo State Governorship Election scheduled for October 10, 2020, in compliance with its statutory obligation under Section 31 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
The letter was widely reported and/or published in both the traditional and social media, including the Premium Times and Sunshine Truth Media, and is accessible on the latter’s website at https://sunshinetruth.com.ng/2020/09/01/ondo-2020-why-inec-must-publish-particulars-of-agboola-ajayi-as-zlp-candidate-in-7days-by-lawyer-femi-emodamori/.
It was brought to my attention that in response to my letter mentioned above, a press release was issued by your Party through its Publicity Secretary, Felix Olatunde, and widely published in the media on or about September 2, 2020. Your Party’s statement in this regard is accessible online at https://thenewstrack.com.ng/you-are-wasting-your-time-over-my-certificate-agboola-ajayi-tells-emodamori/.
I have read your Party’s press release, particularly the portion wherein it was stated that my letter was “an attempt to create doubt in the minds of our ever-increasing members and indeed voters concerning our popular and widely acceptable candidate, Hon. Agboola Ajayi”.
The release further expressed that my intention was to besmirch the Party’s governorship candidate particularly describing it as the effort of “… someone who claims to be a lawyer obviously acting on the prodding of some political adventurers”. Interestingly, the Party also claimed to be “aware of the clout chasing effort of those behind the lawyer in this attempt to tout an ultimatum that is futile in its entirety”.
I am a Legal Practitioner duly called to the Nigerian Bar with Supreme Court enrolment number SCN057140. I have been an advocate of accountability and transparency, not just in governance, but as a way of personal life, for over a decade.
I have had to fight several serious and sensitive public advocacy battles at great risk to my personal safety, and huge financial sacrifices, using the instrumentality of the law, just to hold personality cults and institutions that are hitherto considered sacred, accountable.
The same belief in accountability and transparency by those who govern, or seek to govern us, drove me to take up the celebrated case of MARTINS ALO V. SPEAKER, ONDO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY & ANOR, pro bono (free of charge), right from the Ondo State High Court up to the Supreme Court, to assert the right of the citizens to demand accountability and audited accounts from their government, under the Freedom of Information Act.
The case had culminated in the locus classicus unanimous judgment of the Akure Judicial Division of the Court of Appeal, delivered on March 27, 2018 in Appeal No: CA/AK/4/2017, wherein the Court held that the Freedom of Information Act is applicable to States within the Federation, and that the citizens have the legal right or locus standi to demand for accountability or Audited Accounts from their government, without even giving the government any reason for making such demands. This revolutionary judgment reverberated across the entire country, and boosted our collective fight for probity and accountability in governance. It was reported as ALO V. SPEAKER, ONDO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY & ANOR (2018) LPELR-45143(CA).
I have also had to institute a court case against a former Acting Chief Judge in Ondo State, over alleged aged falsification. Nigerians and people from around the world who followed that equally celebrated case know how the matter ended with the untimely and unceremonious exit of the Acting Chief Judge from office.
I have had to institute a court case against Dr. Olusegun Mimiko (who is now the National Leader of your Party) in his capacity as a sitting Governor of Ondo State, along with other powerful personalities and institutions, including a sitting Chief Judge of the State, as well as the Deputy Governor of the State at the material time, over an unprecedented aberration of the Nigerian Constitution witnessed by Nigerians when the then Attorney-General of the State openly administered both the Oath of Office and Oath of Allegiance on the Deputy Governor, right in the presence of the Chief Judge, in violation of Sections 185(2) and 187(2) of the Constitution, which stipulate that such Oaths should be administered by the State Chief Judge. The national leadership of your Party is fully aware of my selfless public advocacy in the matter.
In the same vein, I have had cause to drag a sitting Chief Judge in the State to the National Judicial Council for issuance of false certificate, and I later instituted an action against the National Judicial Council (NJC) at the Federal High Court in Abuja, in respect of the same matter. My court action against the NJC culminated in an out of Court settlement, with Terms of Settlement that were duly filed in Court, in suit number FHC/ABJ/1046/2015 Femi Emmanuel Emodamori V. National Judicial Council.
All these happened during the tenure of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko as the Governor of Ondo State. Your Party and its national leadership cannot therefore, pretend not to know my profile in principled public advocacy.
I have done all these, not for any political reasons or incentives. I am not a member of, and will never join, any political party. I have never contested, and will never contest, any election. I have never taken, and will never take, any political appointment; not even for the prestigious office of the Attorney-General. I have never taken a dime, either directly or by proxy, from any human being, dead or alive, to facilitate or sponsor my public advocacy. I am simply running a race in line with my own calling, and always ready to commit my resources to whatever cause I believe in.
On the premise of the above, I regard the derisory and uncomplimentary narrative being peddled in your Party’s Press Release of September 2, 2020 especially the part thereof highlighted above in bold letters and underlined, as libelous of my person, to say the least. It conveys the impression that I have no mind of my own, and do not act based my personal principle and conviction but as a willing tool for negative adventures by other faceless persons. Your Party’s Press Statement in this regard is therefore grossly irresponsible.
I have received several calls from numerous persons within and outside the country, expressing the negative perception created about my person by the Press Release. We live in an electronic age, where such Press Release is not only in a permanent form but accessible at all times and by generation after generation.
Consequently, I hereby demand that your Party retract the demeaning insinuations in that Statement, and issue a formal and public apology to me in two national daily newspapers, then pay to me the sum of N1,000,000, 000 (One Billion Naira) as damages for defaming my character, all within fourteen (14) days from the date of this letter.
TAKE NOTICE that I have prepared the necessary court processes to commence defamation proceedings against your Party, and will file same in the event of your default in acceding to my demands, after the expiration of the timeline highlighted above. Yours faithfully,
Femi Emmanuel Emodamori
Cc: The Ondo State Chairman, Zenith Labour Party (Z.L.P)Ondo State Z.L.P SecretariatAlong Ilesa Garage RoadAkure.Dear Sir, The above is for your attention and necessary action to comply with the demands therein.Yours faithfully,