Chairman of the United Bank for Africa and Heirs Holdings, Mr. Tony Elumelu, has given a seven-day ultimatum to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public petition, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, to retract a statement credited to him linking the businessman and his bank to alleged theft of N41 billion belonging to defunct national carrier, NITEL from the company’s bank accounts domiciled at the bank.
The alleged fraud occurred when Elumelu served as managing director of the bank.
Two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), Mr. Lawal Rabana and Ms. Oluwakemi Balogun, who are lawyers to Elumelu, in a letter to the senator threatened to sue if he fails to retract the statement and publicly apologise to Elumelu within seven days over his allegation.
“We have our client’s further instruction to take all appropriate legal actions against Senator Akinyelure and his media agents if our above-stated demand is not met within seven days of their receipt of our demand letter,” the letter said.
The lawyers added that they were appalled by the deliberate peddling of falsehood and misinformation against an unblemished personal and business reputation, painstakingly built over several decades with great personal sacrifice and unquestionable integrity.
According to the lawyers, “It is important to emphasise that when UBA appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, attention was drawn to the fact that the facts and circumstances leading to the disputes on the alleged financial indebtedness was pending before the Supreme Court in SC/CV/112/2020. It was resolved that given the pendency of the matter at the Supreme Court, it was subjudice and all actions on the matter be suspended.
“It is shocking and sacrilegious that a matter pending at the apex court could be subjected to debate contrary to the Rules of the Senate and by extension, the principle of law that when a matter is subjudice, it should not be subjected to debate before a decision is reached by the court.
“The publication ascribed to Senator Ayo Akinyelure is in total disregard of the Rules of Senate and the rule of law.”
The lawyers, therefore, demanded an immediate open, public and unreserved retraction of the statements credited to Akinyelure as well as an apology from him for “this false allegation and defamation” of their client.