Ex-Nigerian Ambassador sues former Foreign Minister, Onyeama for libel in US court

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Onoh Lilian, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Namibia, has lodged a libel suit at the U.S. 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, a Permanent Secretary at the ministry.

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

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

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In the suit before the court, Counsel to Onoh, Steven Thornton, said the online newspaper, in April, published an article saying the Nigerian Government sacked Onoh on account of misappropriation of N50 million.

Her counsel, Thornton, noted that the media outlet published Onoh’s photograph to ensure the story’s object 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 the diversion of funds meant for the running of Nigeria’s High Commission in Namibia.

The online newspaper alleged that Aduda and Onyeama were members of the investigative committee that indicted Onoh of fraud.

As a fight-back, in a series of memos to former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Onoh accused Onyeama of condoning corrupt practices in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the court papers, 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 an alleged embezzlement of $2.8 million in Red Cross Funds meant for Haiti earthquake victims, as well as the acts of visa racketeering in the USA and other countries in which her successor in Jamaica had engaged.

The claimant’s lawyer contended that the media 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 any such committee.

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

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