N150 billion libel suit: AIT opts for out-of-court settlement with Tinubu

By The Citizen
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DAAR Communications, owned by Chief Raymond Dokpesi has tendered an unreserved apology to the national leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu over a documentary aired on African Independent Television (AIT) titled, 'Lion of Bourdillon'

‎DAAR Communications also opted for an out of court settlement in a N150 billion libel suit filed against the company before a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

On another hand, Asiwaju Tinubu agreed has also accepted the apology tendered by DAAR Communications as settlement for the libellous documentary.

Tinubu had instituted the N150 billion suit before the court against Daar Communications Plc, owners of AIT, for airing the documentary‎.

He said the money represented aggravated and exemplary damages for the libelous documentary.

He had alleged that the documentary, which started airing on March 1, 2015, was libelous and aimed at tarnishing his image.

DAAR communications, as defendant/claimant, also filed a counter claim of N200 billion‎ as aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages against the claimant.

The matter which came before Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe was later referred to ‎Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in December last year.

At the resumed proceedings Monday, counsel to Dokpesi, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) informed the court of his client's wish to embrace alternative dispute resolution.

'My lord, we have come to court today to embrace Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Every war that is fought is always settled amicably on a roundtable.

'Both parties have expressed their desire to settle amicably based on the terms of settlement which the My Lord has been furnished with.

'We reached the agreement to enable both parties to continue with the good relationship that they have always had. We have driven the devil away with a spiritual 'Koboko', Ozekhome told the court.

Tinubu's Counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) also informed the court of his client's willingness to settle out of court,

'I align myself with the submissions and sentiments of my learned friend. I can also confirm that the term of settlement which was drawn up on the 29th of January has been accepted by both parties,' Olanipekun said.

'I also want to appreciate my Lord for her patience all through the duration of the suit. I also appreciate the Claimant who magnanimously agreed to settle out of court,' Olanipekun said.

The trial judge, Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe adopted the terms of settlement as judgement of the court having acknowledged that it has been filed before the court.

The terms of agreement adopted as judgement of the court include a retraction of the broadcast by AIT, an apology by AIT which should be aired three times, once daily on AIT, and that the claimant and the defendant shall bear their respective costs in the suit.

A copy of DAAR Communications apology letter titled, 'Retraction and Apology by DAAR communications PLC to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinuby' circulated to journalists stated: 'Further to the terms of settlement in suit No: ID/196GCMW/2015 between Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and DAAR Communications Plc filed as a result of the broadcast‎ of a documentary titled, 'Lion of Bourdillion' and which terms were adopted at the High Court of Lagos State on 5th February, 2016 as the judgement of the court, the defendant DAAR Communications Plc hereby retracts and apologises to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as follows:

'Daar Communications Plc, acknowledges that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is an outstanding political leader of unblemished character and integrity, as well as a leading public figure and opinion moulder who has made and continues to make immense, colossal and gargantuan contributions to the progress and development of the nation in general and Lagos State in particular.

'Daar Communication Plc admits that in airing the said documentary, it had no intention whatsoever to embarrass or diminish the high reputation of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu which it respects and attests to.

'Daar Communications Plc hereby makes a public and unequivocal retraction of the said documentary titled 'Lion of Bourdilon', which was broadcast on its television station, AIT.

'Daar Communications Plc hereby tenders unreserved apology to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the broadcast of the documentary on its television station, AIT.

'Daar Communications Plc prays that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will live long to make more enormous contributions to the advancement of our nation, Nigeria, Lagos State and the world at large,' the statement read.