The legal team and members of the board of trustees of Human Rights Monitoring Agenda HURMA, has described the letter of threat written by a lawyer to Hon. Ademorin Kuye, a Federal House of Representative member for Somolu constituency as “a great legal blunder”.
This response by HURMA leadership is as a result of continuous demand for a statement of retraction from Comrade Buna Olaitan Isiak, the Executive Director of HURMA by Kuye’s legal representative, lawyer Ayoola Julious.
Comrade Buna had earlier made a statement which was published by Rights Monitors News and as well circulated on other social media platforms where he positioned that the political representatives of Somolu constituency should be held responsible for a killing incident due to lack good and effective security. The press statement was titled “Somolu Recent Killings: Hold Dullar, Olowo and Kuye Responsible, Not Police”. This statement was as a result of the death of one Suleiman Olumegbon who was recently shot dead by armed robbers at Ajose Street in Somolu. The statements further described the personalities mentioned which include the Chairman of the Local Government; Lagos State House of Assembly member for Somolu Constituency 1 and also Federal House of Rep member where Hon. Kuye belongs. Comrade Buna in the press statement had described the characters as failure in their primary responsibility which is basically provision of security and welfare for the people as stated in Chapter 2 of 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Although other characters mentioned in the above caption visited the family members of the deceased with promises to assist the family and as well ensure improvement in area of Security among other necessities, Hon. Kuye considered the mere mentioning of his name as injurious to his personality and therefore demands a retraction.
According to Kuye’s lawyer, Ayoola Julious in his letter addressed to Comrade Buna Olaitan Isiak on Friday 24th, September 2021, it States:
“It is our candid opinion that the publication from the outset was designed to humiliate and destroy the public perception of Our Client.”
“IT IS THEREFORE OUR INSTRUCTION that you retract the said publication within the next 48 hours and tender an unreserved apology using the same media employed in circulating the disparaging publication”
“TAKE NOTICE that if a retraction is not published as advised, we are obliged to take further steps not especially when defamation is also a criminal offence.”
The leadership of HURMA sees such letter from Kuye’s lawyer as an error which must be corrected for the sake of future generations. HURMA’s response was delivered on Monday 27th of September, 2021
The response in full:
27th September, 2021.
Ayoola Julius Esq.
Ayoola Julius & Co.
Legal Practitioners (Iyanu Chambers)
87, St. Finbarr’s Road Akoka–Yaba
RE: “RECENT SOMOLU KILLINGS: HOLD DULLAR, OLOWO AND KUYE RESPONSIBLE, NOT THE POLICE”
Your letter dated the 21st September, 2021 to our Executive Director, Comrade Buna Isiak Olaitan in respect of the above subject matter has been passed to us for our legal response.
We have analyzed the publication referred to in your letter and we do not have any reason to conclude that there is nothing libelous, mendacious and seditious in the publication and there is no reason to retract the publication and tender what you called ‘unreserved apology’ in your letter.
The area of interest of our response is your Client’s veiled threat of criminal prosecution of Comrade Buna Isiak Olaitan should he failed to retract the said publication. It is the belief of our team that you have made a great legal error in not appropriately advising your client, a national law maker that Seditious Offences Ordinance of 1909 which was reproduced in Section 51 of the Criminal Code had been abolished. In other words, you are making use of a dead law to intimidate a great social worker. It is against this background that we urge your good self to advise your client by making use of the authority of ARTHUR NWANKWO V. THE STATE where Olatawura(JCA)(as he then was) stated thus:
“To face public criticisms in respect of their office so as to ensure that they are accountable to their electorates. They should not be made to feel they live in an Ivory Tower and therefore belong to different class. They must develop thick skin and where possible, plug their ears with cotton wool if they feel sensitive or irascible. They are within their constitutional rights to sue for defamation but they should not use the machinery of government to invoke criminal proceedings to gag their opponents as the freedom of speech guaranteed by our constitution will be meaningless.”
Having regard to the above statement of the law, we are appalled that your client is contemplating a criminal prosecution of a genuine human right activist who toiled along others against the military dictatorship to have a rickety democratic space where your client is enjoying without a corresponding responsibility. In a democracy, there is nothing like “the king does no wrong”.
On this issue of criminal prosecution of a patriotic Nigerian citizen, kindly advise your client to perish the thought as it is going to be a waste of tax payer’s money being collected by him.
On the civil litigation, your client is at liberty to exercise his fundamental rights of access to justice. We will be glad to have him in the witness box for cross-examination. We hasten to add that “the law is an ass”, your client may need to reconsider his step.
By this letter, we want to draw your attention to the conversation you had with Comrade Buna Isiak Olaitan on the 23rd day of September, 2021 intimidating him to retract his publication. Our team has analyzed the conversation, in good conscience we believe that your conversation is a professional misconduct and Comrade Buna Isiak Olaitan has considered reporting you to the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee for an appropriate sanction.
TAKE NOTICE that should your client contemplate using the instrument of the state to harass and arrest the person of Comrade Buna Isiak Olaitan, all the members of HURMA and other Civil Society Groups shall start a political action against your client which includes but not limited to world press conference, field agitation, civil disobedience and peaceful rallies.
Thank you for your co-operation
FOR LEGAL AID TEAM
Lekan Alabi Esq. 08023600373