Former Chairman of Daar Communications Plc, owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT), Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi, on Friday tendered an unreserved apology to the national leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and opted for an out of court settlement in a N150 billion libel suit instituted by Tinubu against AIT.
Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor had instituted the N150 billion suit against AIT before an Ikeja High Court for peddling false accusations against his person in the documentary titled: 'Lion of Bourdilion.'
According to him, the documentary was politically-sponsored to tarnish his reputation in the eyes of the public.
The trial judge, Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe, had on April 1, 2015 granted an interlocutory injunction restraining the AIT from further airing the documentary, pending the determination of the libel suit.
AIT had in its statement of defence and counter-claim filed by its counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, denied each and every allegation of facts as contained in the claimant's amended statement of claim.
It stated that Tinubu (defendant) founded his entire claims on a non-existent ground or cause of action because contrary to his (Tinubu) claim, the documentary aired by its media outfit was not titled 'The Lion of Bourdilon,' but 'Unmasking the Real Tinubu.'
The matter was subsequently referred to pretrial conference to enable parties explore an out of court settlement option.
Justice Akinkugbe, however, held that if both parties failed to resolve the issues involved in the suit during the Case Management Conference (CMC), the case would then be referred to a trial judge.
At the resumption of the matter, counsel to Tinubu, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, and counsel to AIT, Chief Ozekhome, SAN, presented the terms of settlement reached on January 29, 2016 to Justice Akinkugbe.
Ozekhome told the court of his client's wish to embrace Alternative Dispute Resolution.
"My lord, we have come to court today to embrace Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Every war that is fought is always settled amicably on a roundtable.
"Both parties have expressed their desire to settle amicably based on the terms of settlement which my Honourable Lord has been furnished with.
"We reached the agreement to enable both parties to continue with the good relationship that they have always had. We have driven the devil away with a spiritual "Koboko", Ozekhome told the court.
Tinubu's Counsel, Wole Olanipekun also informed the court of his client's willingness to settle out of court,
"I align myself with the submissions and sentiments of my learned friend. I can also confirm that the terms of settlement which was drawn up on the 29th of January has been accepted by both parties.
"I also want to appreciate my Lord for her patience all through the duration of the suit. I also appreciate the Claimant who magnanimously agreed to settle out of court," Olanipekun said.
Consequently, Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe adopted the terms of settlement and acknowledged that it had been filed before the court.
The terms of settlement include a retraction of the broadcast by AIT, an apology by AIT, which should be aired three times, once daily on AIT, and that the claimant and the defendant shall bear their respective costs in the suit.
A copy of Dopkesi's apology letter reads:
"Retraction and Apology by DAAR Communications Plc to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
"Further to the terms of settlement in Suit No: ID/196GCMW/2015 between Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Daar Communications Plc filed as a result of the broadcast of a documentary titled 'Lion of Bourdilon' and which terms were adopted at the High Court of Lagos State on 5th February, 2016 as the judgment of the court, the defendant, Daar. Communication Plc, hereby retract and apologise to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as follows;
1. Daar Communications Plc, acknowledges that Asiwaju Bola 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, colossal and gargantuan contributions to the progress and development of the nation in general. And Lagos State in particular.
2. Daar Communication 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.
3. Daar Communications Plc hereby makes a public and unequivocal retraction of the said documentary titled 'Lion of Bourdilon', which was broadcast on its television station, AIT.
4. Daar Communications Plc hereby tenders unreserved apology to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the broadcast of the documentary on its television station, AIT.
5. Daar Communications Plc prays that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will live long to make more enormous contributions to the advancement of our nation, Nigeria, Lagos State and the world at large."
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