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Buratai’s Proxy Sues Peoples Gazette, Files Freedom of Information Action Against Newspaper To Know Source Of Report Exposing Multi-billion Naira Cash, Watches Recovered From Former Army Chief

According to him, the failure to respond to the inquiry was a violation of section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 and therefore is wrongful and illegal.

An Abuja-based Publisher and a proxy of a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (retd.), Isah Bello, has sued Peoples Gazette newspaper for allegedly defaming the Ambassador to Benin Republic.

The Peoples Gazette had on June 23 reported that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) raided and recovered items including 50 luxury watches from the residence of Buratai, used by a proxy.


But Bello, in the suit before a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Abuja, claimed the newspaper failed to respond to a letter dated June 28, 2022, seeking to clarify the source of its story.

According to him, the failure to respond to the inquiry was a violation of section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 and therefore is wrongful and illegal.

Filed by Osuagwu Ugochukwu of St. Francis Xavier Solicitors & Associates (Legal Practitioners & Consultants), the Publisher asked the court to prevail on the defendant to supply the information requested in his letter.

Published in the Daily Trust Newspaper of July 18, 2022, the  suit is titled ‘The originating summons pursuant to sections 2(6)& 20 Freedom of Information Act 2011 and under the inherent jurisdiction of this honorable court.’[story_link align="left"]111418[/story_link]

“Let the Peoples Gazette Ltd within forty-two (42) days after the service of this summons, inclusive of the day of such service cause an appearance to be entered for him to this summons which is issued upon the application of Isah Bello of No 64, Muhammadu Buhari Way, who claims to be entitled to the reliefs hereafter set out and for the determination of the following questions:

“Whether the refusal and/or neglect of the defendant to grant the application of the Plaintiff vide his letter dated June 28, 2022 does not amount to an infringement of the provision of Section 4 of the Freedom of information Act 2011?” part of the court documents published in the national daily reads.

The plaintiff claims against the defendant as follows: “A declaration that the refusal, failure and or neglect by the defendant to release the information requested by the plaintiff in his letter, dated June 28, 2022, amounts to violation of Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, and therefore is wrongful and illegal.[story_link align="left"]111201[/story_link]

“An order directing the defendant, including her servants, agents, privies, officials and or cohorts to furnish the plaintiff with detailed information as stated in plaintiff’s letter, dated June 28 2022, until judgment is delivered in this case within 14 days of the delivery of judgment.

“The cost of this action.

“Any further order(s) as the court may deem fit and proper to make in the circumstances of this case.”

The affidavit in support says partly: “I, Isah Bello, male, Muslim, publisher and Nigerian citizen of No 6A Muhammadu Buhari Way, Abuja, hereby makes an oath and states as follows: “That I am the deponent herein.

“That I am a publisher and have personal knowledge of the facts deposed herein. That I know as a fact as follows: ‘That the Federal Government of Nigeria has enacted the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

‘That in the pursuit of her rights and pursuant to the right of access to information guaranteed by the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the plaintiff, by letter dated June 28, 2022.” asked the defendant to furnish him with certain information in her custody relating to its June 23, 2022 online publication entitled ‘ICPC RECOVERS MULTI BILLION-NAIRA

‘CASH, ROLEX WATCHES STOCKPILED IN EX-ARMY CHIEF BURATAI’S ABUJA RESIDENCE’ now produced and marked Exhibit A, a copy which was sent to the defendant and proof of receipt.[story_link align="left"]110929[/story_link]

‘That the June 28, 2022 letter of the plaintiff requested the following response from the defendant viz:

‘Did you verify the allegations contained in your write-up with ICPC before publishing? This is because the ICPC press release of June 24, 2022 states to the contrary that Buratai owns the house in Wuse II, Abuja or has links with the K Salam Construction Company Nigeria Limited.

‘Did you check with the Corporate Affairs Commission as to who the owners of the K Salam Construction Company Nigeria limited are? And perhaps whether Buratai’s name appears on the company’s directorship?

‘You claimed you called Buratai during the ICPC raid on the Wuse 2 house. At what time and day did you call Ambassador Buratai?  What number did you use in calling him? And which of the Buratai’s lines did you call?’

Describing the suit as laughable and idiotic, a public affairs analyst said, “They’re suing Peoples Gazette for refusing to honour Freedom of Information Action. It is not applicable to PG, they should have directed that to the ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission).

“Besides, Buratai is using a third party, this is unacceptable in filing a lawsuit, the person has no locus. They are just trying to use it to silence PG.”