Legal Nigeria

Bank debtors’ lists: Dabiri slams bank, media house with N500m suit

Says ‘I’m not Thriller Endeavour’s director’     
…Writes IG, DG SSS to investigate
By Akeeb Alarape
Immediate past Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has slammed a N500 million suit against Diamond Bank Plc and a national newspaper for alleged defamation of character.
In a suit filed yesterday by her lawyer, Prince Abdul-Mujib Mumuni of Eko Akete Chambers, the former lawmaker stated that she had no link with Thriller Endeavours, which Diamond Bank claimed was indebted to it to the tune of N122 million.
In company with her husband, Dabiri, who had stormed the Igbosere premises of the Lagos State High Court around 12.30p.m yesterday to witness the filing of the suit, expressed disappointment in the publication of her name as a debtor.
Although she said she had written the concerned bank, the former lawmaker representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency, said the publication of her name and photograph has brought her and her family to public ridicule “as people now call me ‘onigbese’” (a debtor).
She said the suit was a civil aspect of the matter, saying she had written to the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS) to investigate how her name was used to register a company at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as a director without her knowledge.
In a 22-paragraph statement of claim signed by her lawyer, Dabiri claimed the legal action was a reaction to the publication of her names in the debtors’ list of Diamond Bank and publication of her photograph in the front page of a national newspaper.
“The claimant avers that the inclusion of her name falsely as a director of Thriller Endeavours allegedly indebted to the 1st defendant as published and amplified by the 2nd defendant has dented, tarnished and tainted the image, fame and esteem of the claimant in the mind of and eye of both ordinary and influential Nigerians.
“The claimant avers that since the news broke through the amplified publication of the claimant’s name as director of a company indebted to the 1st defendant by the 2nd defendant, Nigerians, who were positively and favourably disposed to the claimant have withdrawn from the claimant and have been avoiding the claimant like plague to the discomfiture and embarrassment of the claimant,” the statement of claim read in parts.
Dabiri urged the court for a declaration that the publication of her name as a director of Thriller Endeavours “has no foundation in truth, that the defendants have defamed and injured the character of the claimant and the claimant has suffered reputational damage in consequence.”
“The sum of N500,000,000 (five hundred million naira) against the defendants jointly and severally as damages for the reputational injury suffered by the claimant in consequence and as a result of the publication of the name of the claimant as a director of Thriller Endeavours, a company allegedly indebted to the 1st defendant.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants either by themselves, their servants, workers, staff, etc., from further publishing the name of the claimant as a director of Thriller Endeavours, a company allegedly indebted to the 1st defendant.
“An order of the honourable court directing the defendants to separately and jointly render a public apology to the claimant in respect of the false publication made on August 4, 2015, touching, affecting and concerning the claimant in three national dailies in addition to The Punch – the publication of the 2nd defendant.”