Tony Elumelu, chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has denied being involved in a N41 billion “fraudulent deal” involving the Nigeria Telecommunication Company (NITEL).
Citing a petition from the counsel to NITEL, Ayo Akinyelure, chairman, senate committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions, had said the telecommunications company withdrew the money under controversial circumstances under the watch of Elemelu and two other former managing directors of UBA.
But in a letter on behalf of Elumelu, RA Lawal-Rabana and Kemi Balogun, his lawyers, described the allegations as “baseless”, saying “neither him nor any of the organisations associated with him has ever been involved in or indicted for any fraud”.
They said when UBA appeared before the senate committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions, it was stated that the matter of alleged financial indebtedness was pending before the supreme court and as such prohibited from public discussion.
The lawyers said the senator acted in total disregard of the rules of the senate and the rule of law through his utterances.
They, therefore, demanded a public retraction of the said statements and an apology from Akinyelure for the “false allegation and defamation of our Client”.
“We write on behalf of Mr.Tony O.Elumelu, CON (our Client) whose attention has been drawn to several false online publications credited to Senator Ayo Akinyelure, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions alleging the involvement of UBA and indictment of Mr. Elumelu in an N41 billion fraud relating to NITEL in liquidation,” the letter read.
“Our Client is also alarmed and appalled by this deliberate peddling of falsehood and misinformation against an unblemished personal and business reputation, painstakingly built by our Client over several decades with great personal sacrifice and unquestionable integrity.
“Our Client rejects Senator Akinyelure’s attempt to use the platform of the respected institution of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to accomplish whatever ulterior motives he may have.
“It was resolved that given the pendency of the matter at the Supreme Court, it was sub-judice and all actions on the matter be suspended. It is shocking and sacrilegious that a matter pending at the Apex Court could be subjected to debate contrary to the Rules of the Senate and by extension, the principle of law that when a matter is sub-judice, it should not be subjected to debate before a decision is reached by the Court.
“Therefore, the publications ascribed to Senator Ayo Akinyelure is in total disregard of the Rules of Senate and the Rule of Law.
“Our Client has instructed us to, and we have demanded an immediate open, public and unreserved retraction of the said statements credited to Senator Akinyelure and an apology from Senator Akinyelure for this false allegation and defamation of our Client.
“We have our Client’s further instruction to take all appropriate legal actions against Senator Akinyelure and his media agents if our above-stated demand is not met within Seven(7) days of the receipt of our demand letter.”