Defamation: Banire seeks redress from FIJ, threatens N1Billion libel suit


Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Convener of social advocacy group, United Action for Change, UAC, Dr. Muiz Banire has threatened to drag Foundation for Investigative Journalism, FIJ, to court for N1billion compensation if the organization fails to meet his demands over damages done his 35 years of legal and academic record.

This was disclosed in a letter titled “DEFAMATORY STATEMENTS AGAINST DR MUIZ BANIRE, SAN, OON PRE-ACTION PROTOCOL WRITTEN MEMORANDUM”, dated 7th May 2024 and addressed to FIJ by his lawyer, Kunle Adegoke SAN.

According to the letter, “Our client Informed us, and we verily believe him, that: his attention was drawn to your organisation's publication of

6th May 2024 with the caption: CONFIRMED: Muiz Banire Wrote the Petition That Triggered FIJ Reporter's Abduction, published on your organisation's website. In the said publication, your organisation wrote that our client is responsible for the abduction of one Daniel Ojukwu, a member of staff of your organization”

The letter further said “your publication deliberately conveyed the malicious

impression that our client engineered the kidnap of the aforementioned Daniel Ojukwu, thereby, suggesting that our client engages in criminal conduct; in this vein, your publication failed to mention that our client acted in line with his professional obligation in the representation of his client and that his office, M. A. Banire & Associates, authored the petition to the Inspector-General of Police on behalf of their client to report a case of

cyberbullying; your publication is, without a doubt, designed to damage the

reputation of our client, a purpose it is currently serving.

“Due to the popularity and effectiveness of your organisation's online distribution network, millions of people have received and read your organisation's defamatory publication; your organisation to note that your publication has dragged our client's carefully nurtured good name in the mud and exposed our client to underserved public opprobrium; many that have read your publications, particularly his professional colleagues and associates, have expressed shock as to why our client would engage in the criminal behaviour your organisation attributed to him.

“Many also queried our client on the sins or transgressions of the said Daniel Ojukwu against the person of our client as to warrant our client resorting to the crime of engineering his abduction; to many of them, our client's explanation that he had no

personal relationship with the said Daniel Ojukwu and did not know him from Adam but only acted in his professional capacity as counsel to his client in the submission of a

petition to the police on his client's behalf fell on deaf ears; and your organisation

has, through its false and heinous allegations, inflicted grievous damage on our client's


“It is beyond cavil that the referenced publication casts a direct aspersion on the person

of our client. To right-thinking members of society, you have presented

our client as a criminal who engages in abduction of people. Furthermore, your organisation's publication has caused many to believe that our client, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a member of the Body of Benchers and a holder of a doctorate degree in Law, has no qualms in committing the heinous crime your organisation's publications attributed to him.

“The gross implication of your organisation's publication is that it has informed the world that our client is unfit to be a legal practitioner or an Officer of the Order of the Niger and is only fit for the four walls of a prison.”

The legal luminary therefore gave the organization 14 days to retract and make amends, without which, he would be left with no other option than to drag FIJ before the court.

“It is in view of the foregoing that we, on behalf of our client, demand the following:

not later than 14 (fourteen) days from the delivery of this written memorandum to your organisation, your organisation immediately retracts the said publication and tenders an unreserved apology through all your organisation's platforms and 5 (five) national daily newspapers circulating all over the federation, which must include the Punch Newspaper and ThisDay Newspaper;

“Not later than 14 (fourteen) days from the delivery of this letter on your organisation, pay the sum of N500,000,000.00 (Five Hundred Million Naira) as compensation for the reputation of our client that your organisation has maligned maliciously and/or recklessly.

As your organisation is aware, our client considers litigation only as a last resort. In this regard, our client is open to resolving this matter through conciliation, mediation,

arbitration or other dispute resolution options you deem most suitable.”

At the expiration of the 14 days grace, the letter said Banire’s lawyers will pursue litigation to seek redress if the stated demands are not met. The court suit among other reliefs will seek “AN ORDER compelling your organisation to immediately withdraw the said publication and tender an unreserved apology in 5 (five) national daily newspapers, which must include Punch Newspapers and ThisDay Newspapers;

“AN ORDER of the Honourable Court compelling your organisation to pay damages in the sum of N1,000,000,000.00 (One Billion Naira) as compensation for the person of our client that your organisation has defamed.”

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