African Independent Television has apologized to a former governor of Lagos State and chieftain of the ruling APC, Bola Tinubu, over a documentary it broadcast before last year’s general election.
In a letter of apology tendered before a Lagos High Court on Friday, Daar Communications, the owners of the station, said it holds Mr. Tinubu in high esteem.
“Daar Communications Plc acknowledges that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is an outstanding political leader of unblemished character and integrity, as well as a leading public figure and opinion-moulder, who has made and continuous make immense contributions to the progress and development of the nation in general and Lagos State in particular.
“Daar Communications Plc admits that in airing the said documentary, it had no intention, whatsoever, to embarrass or diminish the high reputation of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu which it respects and attests to,” read the letter.
The TV station had begun airing a documentary on March 1 last year titled, “Unmasking the Real Tinubu: The Lion of Bourdillon”, showcasing various properties and companies across Lagos purportedly owned by Mr. Tinubu.
In the documentary, Mr. Tinubu was described as “Nigeria’s biggest landlord”.
The documentary also claimed that Mr. Tinubu was “charged with narcotics” in 1993 in the United States.
Hours after it debuted on AIT, Mr. Tinubu wrote to Daar Communications, the owners of the TV station, threatening to sue if they did not stop the documentary, which he deemed defamatory “in all respects.”
Mr. Tinubu also gave the company’s management 24 hours to apologize and retract the publication and demanded N20 billion as damages.
AIT ignored the former governor and continued to broadcast the documentary, and issued a statement describing his threats as “laughable.”
On March 5, Mr. Tinubu, through his lawyers Wole Olanipekun and Tunji Abayomi, instituted a N150 billion suit against the station alleging that the documentary was libellous and aimed at tarnishing his image.
Eleven days later, Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe issued a restraining order barring AIT from further airing the documentary.
But on Friday, Mike Ozekhome, the TV station’s lawyer, and Wole Olanipekun, Mr. Tinubu’s lawyer, told the judge they had reached an out-of-court settlement.
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