Afraid of the consequences of the legal suit threatened by Bianca Ojukwu, Nigeria’s ambassador to Spain, embattled former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode has withdrawn his damaging comments on her person.
In a statement through his lawyer, Rotimi Akinola, on Thursday, Mr. Fani-Kayode accepted that he erred by making the comment but said it was “bizarre, absurd and inexplicable” that the wife of the late Biafran warlord, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, claimed they were never acquainted.
“As our client said earlier through his press secretary some of the words he used to describe his friendship with Ambassador Ojukwu in his article titled ”A Word For Those Who Call Me A Tribalist” were indiscreet,” Mr. Fani-Kayode’s lawyer said in the statement.
“He hereby withdraws those words,” he added.
A few weeks ago, Mr. Fani-Kayode had written the article where he sought to allay the outrage caused by an earlier controversial piece titled ‘The Bitter Truth About the Igbos.’
In the article, Mr. Fani-Kayode had disclosed that he had had a “long standing and intimate relationship” with Mrs. Ojukwu, former beauty queen and daughter of a state governor in the Second Republic.
The claim angered Mrs. Ojukwu, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Spain, who directed her lawyers to request Mr. Fani-Kayode to retract his statement.
In his statement on Thursday, Mr. Fani-Kayode, who was also a Minister of Culture and Tourism, insisted that he knew Mrs. Ojukwu in the early to mid-80′s when he was a student at London University and Cambridge University respectively.
“They were good friends at the time and they had a few mutual friends who are still alive today,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said through his lawyer.
“The bizarre, absurd and inexplicable assertion that they were not friends and that Ambassador Ojukwu has never met our client is patently false.
“Though he has not seen her for over 25 years he spoke to her on the phone when her husband passed on last year,” he added.
Last week, Mrs. Ojukwu’s lawyers, Wall Street Attorneys, in an advertorial in a national newspaper threatened to commence a legal action against the controversial ex-minister if he fails to retract his comments.
The lawyers stated that their client was “outraged” and “embarrassed” by Mr. Fani-Kayode’s claims.
“In the circumstances, we demand, on the instruction of our client that you submit to her (Mrs. Ojukwu) a clear and unquantified apology and retraction published in The Sun and Thisday newspapers in addition to having the retraction published online,” the lawyers had said.
“Take note that should you fail to tender the apology and publish a retraction of your false and malicious publication, seven days after your receipt of this demand notice, our further instructions are to seek appropriate redress in court. And that shall be without further recourse to you. Be properly guided,” they had added.
Most Nigerians have wondered why the embattled former Minister would resort to uncouth remarks about women when he is still married.
Fani-Kayode has been asked by civil rights groups and anti-corruption campaigners to face his corruption trial by EFCC over the alleged misappropriation of N19billion, rather than fanning the embers of disunity.