BY Eniola Akinkuotu
A former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has demanded that the management of Media Trust Limited – the publisher of Daily Trust and other publications – enter into a negotiation for a possible settlement of N6 billion for defamation of character.
Fani-Kayode said this in a letter addressed to the Managing Director of the newspaper dated August 31, 2020 and titled, ‘Defamation of the Character of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode by Iliyasu Gadu’.
The letter, which was signed by the former minister’s lawyer, Adeola Adesipe, was in response to an article titled, ‘FFK, the Drug Addled Thug in Designer Wears’ dated August 30, 2020.
In the article, which was published in the newspaper, the writer lambasted Fani-Kayode for his conduct during a press conference in which he described a Daily Trust reporter in Calabar, Eyo Charles, as ‘stupid’ after the journalist asked who was “bankrolling” his current tour of southern states.
Gadu, the writer of the article, claimed Fani-Kayode, who attended Cambridge University, was once “a drug addict” and had sought rehabilitation in Ghana but “till today has not been cured of the habit”.
In his pre-litigation letter, however, Fani-Kayode described the article as libellous and demanded an apology from the newspaper, which must be published in other national dailies.
The former minister also demanded that negotiation be entered into for the possible payment of N6 billion due to the irreparable loss the article had caused him.
It read in part, “Be aware that our client has not only suffered immeasurable loss of goodwill, he is currently confronted with unbearable opprobrium by his fans, followers, and colleagues across the globe.
“Our client is alive to his rights both in law and equity but is disposed to an opportunity to undo the evil you have done by retracting the said insalubrious remarks on the same platform it was published and apologising to him in two other national dailies.
“You are also advised to enter into negotiations with us for the sum of N6bn being a token amount for penitence as opposed to the magnitude of infraction caused to our client’s nobility.”
The newspaper was given 14 days to comply with the demands in the letter or face legal action.
Fani-Kayode also wrote a similar letter to Gadu, who authored the article.
The former minister attracted the ire of several Nigerians recently after a viral video showed him talking down on a journalist, an incident he has apologised for.
However, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, as well as many other civil organisations, have continued to criticise him while many reporters have boycotted the former minister’s ongoing tour of several southern states.