Tinubu withdraws suit against AIT after apology for “embarrassing” documentary
The African Independent Television has apologized to Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, for a documentary it aired before last year’s general election.
In a letter of apology tendered before a Lagos High Court on Friday, Daar Communications, the owners of the TV station, said they hold Mr. Tinubu in high esteem.
“Daar Communications Plc acknowledges that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed 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 contributions to the progress and development of the nation in general and Lagos State in particular,” read the letter.
“Daar Communications 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.”
The apology came amid an ongoing Economic and Financial Crimes Commission investigation of alleged illegal receipt of N2.1 billion by Raymond Dokpesi, the owner of AIT.
The TV station had begun airing a documentary on March 1st last year titled, “Unmasking the Real Tinubu: The Lion of Bourdillon, showcasing various properties and companies across Lagos purportedly owned by Mr. Tinubu, described as “Nigeria’s biggest landlord”.
The documentary also claimed that Mr. Tinubu was “charged with narcotics” in 1993 in the United States.
Hours after it debuted on AIT, Mr. Tinubu wrote to Daar Communications, the owners of the TV station, threatening to sue if they did not stop the documentary which he deemed defamatory “in all respects.”
Mr. Tinubu also gave the company’s management 24 hours to apologize and retract the publication and demanded N20 billion as damages.
AIT ignored the former governor and continued to broadcast the documentary, and issued a statement describing his threats as “laughable.”
On March 5, Mr. Tinubu, through his lawyers, Wole Olanipekun and Tunji Abayomi, instituted a N150 billion suit against the station alleging that the documentary was libellous and aimed at tarnishing his image.
Eleven days later, Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe issued a restraining order barring AIT from further airing the documentary.
But on Friday, Mike Ozekhome, the TV station’s lawyer, and Wole Olanipekun, Mr. Tinubu’s lawyer, told the judge they had reached an out-of-court settlement.
“We have come here today that every war that is fought is finally resolved at the round table,” said Mr. Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“Parties have decided to settle amicably to enable both parties to continue with the good relationship that they have always had before the devil struck.”
Mr. Olanipekun supported Mr. Ozekhome’s position, noting that it was time to sheathe their swords.
While adopting the terms of the settlement, dated January 29th, 2016, the judge ordered Daar Communications Plc to publicly and unequivocally retract the documentary thrice daily.
She also ordered the TV station to apologize to Mr. Tinubu.
She asked the defendant to tender an unreserved apology to Tinubu, “three times, once daily.”