The first lady of the country, Aisha Buhari has formally sued Governor Ayodele Fayose for claiming that she was involved in the infamous Halliburton corruption scandal.
The governor shortly after his account was frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) claimed in a statement through his media aide that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot say he is free of corruption too as his wife is named in a bribery case involving a convicted former U.S. lawmaker, Williams Jefferson.
Fayose had said: “The estate he built in Abuja is known to us. His wife was indicted over the Halliburton Scandal (sic). When that American, Jefferson, was being sentenced, the President’s wife was mentioned as having wired $170,000 to Jefferson. Her name was on page 25 of the sentencing of Jefferson. We can serialize the judgment for people to see and read.” In the US Government Sentencing Memorandum that Fayose referred to, it read: “Government Exhibits 36-87 (6/26/02 $170,000 wire transfer from account in Nigeria in the name of Aisha Buhari to an account in the name of The ANJ Group, LLC, identifying “William Jefferson” as Beneficiary),” In a swift response, the first lady denied the allegation and through her legal team
sent a letter to the embattled Ekiti state governor asking him to retract his statement within five days or face the law. “Demand for unqualified retraction of the false statement published by you in various media on the 20th of June, 2016, and subsequent dates regarding our client, Her Excellency, Mrs. Aisha Buhari the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR,” The governor had however refused to retract his statement and insisted he was right about his allegation. According to Premium Times, a court order was issued on Wednesday, July 20 although it is not known if the governor will appear in court considering he has immunity against criminal prosecution as a sitting governor. In the ex-parte motion Mrs. Buhari prayed the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, to grant her reliefs to issue writ of summons against Mr. Fayose and his media advisers, Idowu Adelusi and Lere Olayinka. The court presided by Olukayode Adeniyi granted all reliefs sought by Mrs. Buhari, including an order of substituted service. Mary Ekpere, counsel to Mrs. Buhari, prayed the court for the lawsuit to be served on Mr. Fayose and his two aides, even though Ekiti state is outside the jurisdiction of the Abuja Division of the federal high court. The judge approved the service and asked that it be done either through a courier service or publication in an online media. Governor Fayose had earlier advised the wife of the president to wait until the end of his tenure on October 16, 2018, to sue him for defamation of character. He said by virtue of Section 308 of the constitution, he remained immune from legal attacks until the end of his tenure. Through his counsel, Fayose responded to the letter sent by Aisha Buhari and insisted that she was the one mentioned in the corruption scandal and would therefore not retract his statement. His counsel wrote: “Our client states and reaffirms categorically that the statement he made as regards the involvement of Mrs. Aisha Buhari, the wife of President Buhari, in the Halliburton scandal, is correct and justified in law; having regards to a court judgement convicting one Mr. William Jefferson for bribery in the Halliburton case. “Therein, the name of the President’s wife featured conspicuously. At page 22 of the said judgment delivered by the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, USA, in criminal No 1: 07CR209, the said Mr. William Jefferson was sentenced at 9:00am on November 13, 2009, by Mark D, Lytle. Your client, Mrs. Aisha Buhari was specifically mentioned in the judgment.