Ex-Nigerian ambassador sues Onyeama for defamation in US court

Geoffrey Onyeama

A former Nigerian Ambassador to Namibia, Ms Lilian Onoh, has lodged a libel suit at the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas against Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama.

Also joined in the case is Mr Gabriel Aduda, who was a Permanent Secretary at the ministry.

The case has been assigned to Judge Jane Boyle for adjudication but no date has been fixed for hearing.

In the court documents, Onoh accused Onyeama and Aduda of using a New York-based online newspaper, to defame her.

In the suit before the Court, Counsel to Onoh’, Steven Thornton, said the Online Newspaper, in April, published an article saying Ms Onoh was sacked by the Nigerian government on account of misappropriation of N50 million.

Thornton noted that the media outlet published Onoh’s photograph in the story to ensure the object of the story was not mistaken.

In court papers, her counsel decried the paper’s portrayal of his client as being corrupt having informed its global audience of diversion of funds meant for the running of Nigeria’s High Commission in Namibia.

According to the alleged story, the paper claimed Messrs Aduda and Onyeama were members of the investigative committee that indicted Ms Onoh of fraud.

Onoh had in a series of memos to then Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, accused Onyeama of condoning corrupt practices at the foreign ministry which he supervised.

As an Ambassador, Onoh had reported multiple incidents of embezzlement of millions of U.S. dollars and billions of naira of Nigerian government funds by various Nigerian officials.

She also reported the embezzlement of $2.8 million in Red Cross Funds meant for Haiti earthquake victims as well as the acts of visa racketeering against the USA and other countries in which her successor in Jamaica had engaged.

The claimant’s lawyer contended that Sahara Reporters claims in the alleged offending story were false, stating that she was never terminated from any posting with the Nigerian government for misappropriation of funds.

He further argued that Onyeama did not create a seven-person committee to investigate Onoh, nor did Aduda head up any such committee.

In the claimant’s prayers before the judge, Thornton demanded costs of litigation, “all such other and further relief at law and in equity to which Onoh may show herself to be justly entitled.”