A chieftain of Nigeria’s governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Nasiru Danu, has denied a report linking him to an alleged N51 billion fraud against the Nigerian government.

Mr Danu, in a report published by SaharaReporters on Friday, was named among other top officials to have siphoned money meant to improve the Nigeria Customs Service, a part of which was allegedly transferred to a foundation owned by President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, Zahra.

But reacting to the report, Mr Danu, through a March 6, 2021 letter to SaharaReporters by his lawyer, Bode Olanipekun of Wole Olanipekun & Co., described the publication as false, baseless and malicious.

“With particular reference to the Nigeria Customs Service, our client has informed us that he is not in any business relationship whatsoever with the Nigeria Customs Service and reference to him as part of a “Revenue Assurance Fraud”, or any scheme by which money was allegedly siphoned from the Nigeria Customs Service is deficient in any factual basis whatsoever. Emphatically, our client denies being part of any fraud including that alleged in your publication as involving “N51 billion,” Mr Danu said in his rebuttal.

“In the same vein, our client asserts, in the most vehement manner possible, that he did not transfer, or know about any transfer of N2.5 billion to any foundation, which he is purportedly a signatory to.

“From the content of your publication under issue, the undisguised import, aim, purport and intention it set out to achieve was/is to injure our client’s reputation and name, as well as deflate his estimation in the eyes of well-meaning people. With all respect, what is discernible from your publication under reference is acute malice, spite, viciousness and predetermination to lower and diminish the esteem of our client.

“You might wish to note that our client is involved in legitimate business enterprises that are widely acclaimed, both in Nigeria and within international business circles. He is the Chairman and Chief Executive of several companies, some of which he founded, and others, which, as a result of his reputation for being honest and fair handed, he was invited to chair. These companies, apart from providing unique solutions to societal problems, provide jobs and means of livelihood to at least 2000 Nigerians, as well as contribute their quota to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product. These, amongst other leadership qualities, earned him the conferment of the revered traditional title of the Dan Amana of Dutse.

“Our client’s position is that your publication was made, either with actual or constructive knowledge of the falsity of its content or without any effort to verify the authenticity of such damaging stories which any media outlet should be loath to publish. This is obvious, for instance, from the paucity of details as to time, place, account details, etc, in the publication. Such action is clearly indicative of bad faith and/or, recklessness, with respect.

Mr Danu then demanded the retraction of the publication from SaharaReporters’ official website and Twitter account.

He also wants the news platform to publicly apologise to him on its website as well as in at least three other newspapers with online and physical presence for seven days.

BELOW IS THE FULL TEXT OF MR DANU’S LETTER TO SAHARAREPORTERS.
===============================================================

6th March, 2021

Sahara Reporters Media Group Inc
146 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001,
United States

RE: LIBELOUS AND DEFAMATORY PUBLICATION AGAINST ALHAJI NASIRU HALADU DANU

We act as counsel to Alhaji Nasiru Haladu Danu, hereinafter referred to as ‘our client’, and we write you this letter on his instruction as well as on the basis of information he has provided to us.

Particularly, we write you in relation to your publication of yesterday, 5th March 2021, with the headline “How APC Chieftain, Danu, Customs Boss Defrauded Nigerian Government Of N51 Billion, Wired N2.5 Billion To Buhari’s Daughter” which was published on your website vide the link: http://saharareporters.com/2021/03/05/how-apc-chieftain-danu customs-boss-defrauded-nigerian-government-n51-billion-wired-n25.

The said publication was further disseminated through your Twitter account (@Sahara Reporters) at 9:00 pm. The content of the publication expressly made mention of our client in the following terms:

“A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Nasiru Haladu Danu and some top officials of the Nigeria Customs Service recently defrauded the Nigerian government of N51 billion…

… Danu is an arrowhead in what is now known in some quarters as President Muhammadu Buhari’s oil mafia group

A source said the fraud, which implicates the Comptroller General of the NCS, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), was named “Revenue Assurance Fraud” by some officials of the agency,

Another source said N2.5 billion was also transferred to a foundation owned by Buhari’s daughter, Zahra, for which Danu is a signatory.

“Some top Customs operatives and one Alhaji Nasiru Haladu Danu shared N51 billion. N2.5 billion out of the fund was transferred to a foundation owned by President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter.

…. In 2019, Danu made headlines when he was arrested at Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom, for an alleged passport scam and money laundering.

Sahara Reporters gathered that the Dan Amana Dutse was caught with fake Malta Passport and in his possession, more than £200,000.00 in cash.

Sources said the £200,000.00 which Danu was carrying to give someone in the UK, according to him, was likely meant for Aisha Buhari who was then in London.

The above-reproduced portions, as well as the e-publication, were circulated to your over 3, 500, 000 (Three Million Five Hundred Thousand) followers on the said 5th March 2021.

As against the said allegations, it is our client’s position that he is a law-abiding citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with interests in legitimate business enterprises as is characteristic of his family which has been renowned for trading for at least seven decades. Whilst it is correct that our client is a member of the All Progressives Congress (in the exercise of his constitutional rights to freedom of association – see Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) (as amended)), he has never defrauded Nigeria in any way, shape, form or manner whatsoever.

Our client categorically states that he is not a member of any “oil mafia group”, and your publication’s reference to him as a member of such organisation is flawed and untrue.

With particular reference to the Nigeria Customs Service, our client has informed us that he is not in any business relationship whatsoever with the Nigeria Customs Service and reference to him as part of a “Revenue Assurance Fraud”, or any scheme by which money was allegedly siphoned from the Nigeria Customs Service is deficient in any factual basis whatsoever.

Emphatically, our client denies being part of any fraud including that alleged in your publication as involving “N51 billion”. In the same vein, our client asserts, in the most vehement manner possible, that he did not transfer, or know about any transfer of “N2.5 billion” to any foundation, which he is purportedly a signatory to.

Put differently and/or further, our client states that he is not a signatory to any account belonging to a foundation “owned by President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter”.

In sum, our client knows nothing about any fraud in respect of the revenue of the Nigeria Customs Service; neither does he have any knowledge, latent or otherwise, of any transfer to any foundation owned by any of President Muhammad Buhari’s daughters.

The allegations in your publication also project, without any empirical evidence, that our client “was caught with fake Malta Passport and in his possession, more than £200,000.00 in cash” which he was conveying to the First lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari. Our client unequivocally avers that these allegations are false and ought not to have been published by your communication outlets if representations are to be made within altruistic journalistic limits especially, based on information easily accessible from official records.

For instance, Charge No. CR/126/126/19 – Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Rabbi Opara & Anor is currently pending before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja with regards to the Maltese passport issued to our client. A glean through the Court papers in the said suit would have given your company a fair view of the truth behind the issuance of the Maltese Passport to our client.

Furthermore, in demonstration of the fact that our client was not in possession of illegitimate funds in the United Kingdom, the Uxbridge Magistrates Court, coram McAllister J., on 7th September 2020, ordered a refund, with interest, of money held by our client; and which said money was not in the sum of £200,000.00 as wrongly represented in your publication.

From the content of your publication under issue, the undisguised import, aim, purport and intention it set out to achieve was/is to injure our client’s reputation and name, as well as deflate his estimation in the eyes of well-meaning people. With all respect, what is discernible from your publication under reference is acute malice, spite, viciousness and predetermination to lower and diminish the esteem of our client.

You might wish to note that our client is involved in legitimate business enterprises that are widely acclaimed, both in Nigeria and within international business circles. He is the Chairman and Chief Executive of several companies, some of which he founded, and others, which, as a result of his reputation for being honest and fair handed, he was invited to chair. These companies, apart from providing unique solutions to societal problems, provide jobs and means of livelihood to at least 2000 Nigerians, as well as contribute their quota to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product. These, amongst other leadership qualities, earned him the conferment of the revered traditional title of the Dan Amana of Dutse.

Our client’s position is that your publication was made, either with actual or constructive knowledge of the falsity of its content or without any effort to verify the authenticity of such damaging stories which any media outlet should be loath to publish. This is obvious, for instance, from the paucity of details as to time, place, account details, etc, in the publication. Such action is clearly indicative of bad faith and/or, recklessness, with respect. Arising from the foregoing, we have further instruction of our client to demand the following from you:

1. A retraction of the said defamatory publication.

2. A retraction of @SaharaReporter’s tweet in respect of the publication under reference.

3. A public apology to our client to be issued vide your website and Twitter account @Sahara Reporters to be published for seven (7) consecutive days from the date of first publication.

4. Public apologies to be published in at least 3 newspapers with online and physical presence across Nigeria for seven (7) consecutive days.

Kindly note that, in the event that the legitimate demands of our client, as communicated herewith are not met within seven (7) days from the date of this letter, our client will be left with no option but to use all avenues available to him under the law to seek redress and halt a reoccurrence of the events complained of herein.

Yours faithfully,
PP: Wole Olanipekun & Co.
Bode Olanipekun, SAN

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