Ex-Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, one of the prominent national leaders of the All Progressives Congress, has levied a case against the African Independent Television over a documentary the station aired on him as reported by Premium Times.
Tinubu brought an ex-parte motion before a High Court in Lagos seeking an order of temporary injunction to restrain AIT from producing or continuing to air the offensive documentary on Mr. Tinubu. The one hour-long documentary, which has been airing every day since March 1 at 11 p.m., titled “Unmasking the Real Tinubu” showcased several properties and companies across Lagos purportedly owned by Mr. Tinubu, described as “Nigeria’s biggest landlord”.
The program also claimed that Mr. Tinubu was “charged for narcotics” in 1993 in the United States and
Mr. Tinubu gave the TV station 24 hours to apologize and retract the publication and also demanded N20 billion as damages.
“We are surprised that your media house – and we hold you responsible for the documentary – lacks simple ability to know what is justifiable for publication or understand that freedom of expression does not include deliberate defamation of character,” Mr. Tinubu said in the letter by his lawyer, Mr. Abayomi.
“More disturbing is your representation that the said documentary was ‘sponsored’ without disclosing the ‘sponsors’. You cannot under law, hide under media freedom or freedom of expression to maliciously injure a citizen’s reputation.”
AIT responded swiftly describing Mr. Tinubu’s claims and demands as “laughable,” noting that the station was only carrying out its constitutional responsibility to uphold the fundamental objectives of the constitution.
“Daar Communications is therefore demanding a complete withdrawal of the letter under reference, which must be given wide publicity as that accorded the letter from the chambers of Tunji Abayomi,” the station said through their lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“The media company demands an apology to be published in at least four leading national newspapers and four television stations, which must include NTA, Channels, and AIT.
“The sum of one hundred billion Naira representing aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages for the irreparable injury inflicted on AIT is also being demanded.”
Despite Mr. Tinubu’s threats, AIT has continued to air the documentary, which had led the the APC leader to file a petition with the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, asking them to sanction AIT for violating Nigeria’s broadcasting code.