It filtered into the air that a former member of the House of Representatives, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who represented Ikorodu Federal Constituency between 2003 and 2015, apparently is not happy with what she termed malicious publications made against her by Diamond Bank Plc over publication of her name as one of those owing the bank.
The former lawmaker has consequently prayed Justice Raliat Adebiyi of the High Court of Lagos State sitting in Igbosere, to award a damage sum to the tune of N500m against Diamond Bank. Joined as co-defendant to the suit is The Punch Newspapers Limited.
According to an affidavit sworn to by Dabiri-Erewa, and instituted before the court by her counsel, Adetokunbo Mumuni, she argued that on August 4, 2015, she was inundated with calls, text messages and messages from social media networks, calling her attention to a report in The Punch Newspapers, which stated that her company, Thriller Endeavours is indebted to the financial institution to the tune of N122, 912,031.06.
The former lawmaker equally contended that she is neither a subscriber to the memorandum and article of association of the said Thriller Endeavours nor a Director of the said company alleged to be owing Diamond Bank.
Dabiri-Erewa therefore insisted that Diamond Bank is engaging in what she termed mischief of deliberate kind, aimed at including her name as a Director of Thriller Endeavours when indeed and in truth, she has nothing to do with the company.
Moreover, the former lawmaker accused The Punch Newspaper of engaging in monumental mischief when it published her name on pages 1, 21 and 31 of its August 4, 2015 edition as person whose company was indebted to Diamond Bank Plc.
She did not stop at that, Dabiri-Erewa maintained that as a prominent political figure, the purported publication had subjected her to public opprobrium, ridicule and embarrassment of monumental proportion.
The former lawmaker urged the court to award, “The sum of N500 million against the defendants jointly and severally as damages for the reputational injury she had suffered.”
She also requested “A declaration that the publication which has no foundation in truth, has defamed and injured her character and has suffered reputational damage; N3 million being the sum paid as professional fees to her solicitors.
“An order of the court directing the defendants separately and jointly to render a public apology to her in respect of the false publication made which must be published in three national dailies in addition to The Punch newspaper.”
The former journalist turned lawmaker had in her letter addressed to the editor of Punch Newspaper expressed sadness over the development.
Specifically in the said letter with the caption, “RE: EMEKA OFFOR, ABIKE DABIRI’S FIRMS, OTHERS OWE BANKS N143.81BN,” the lawmaker said, “I was thoroughly embarrassed to see my picture on the front page of Punch Newspaper that Thriller Endeavor Company, claiming me as a director, owes about 100 Million Naira to Diamond Bank.
“I know nothing about the said company, Thriller Endeavor, or its activities, as mentioned in the publication. If the company claims I am a director in the said bank, then it has definitely done so without my knowledge and without my permission.
“If this is the case, it is a case of fraud and will have to be brought to the attention of relevant security agencies, the bank in question, and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“I once again state categorically that the company (Thriller Endeavour) is not known to me. As a very contented person, I owe nobody any money, not even myself.”
It would be recalled that the financial institution had come up with the publication consequent upon the policy of naming and shaming bad debtors by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Diamond bank had named Dabiri-Erewa as one of the directors of Thriller Endeavours which has a non-performing loan (NPL) to the tune of N122.9million.