By WILLY EYA
Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has formally withdrawn his claim on Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, wife of the late Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and Nigeria’s envoy to Spain.
The former minister had claimed to have had an intimate relationship with Bianca some years ago, prompting the former beauty queen to deny the claim and asking for an apology, with a threat to go to court.
In a statement, yesterday, Fani-Kayode admitted that some of the words he used to describe his friendship with Bianca, in his article entitled: “A Word for those who call me a tribalist,’’ were indiscreet, hence, his decision to withdraw them.
The statement, signed by Mr. Akinola Babatunde Rotimi, entitled: “Re: Statement on Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu,” stated: “We represent Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, the former spokesman to President Olusegun Obasanjo and the former Minister of Culture and Tourism and Aviation.
“Our client knew Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu in the early to mid-80s 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. 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.
“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. He hereby withdraws those words.’’
It will be recalled that Fani-Kayode had, in the article, published in the social media and some segments of the national dailies, claimed to have met with Bianca when she was Miss Bianca Onoh at the Cambridge College and had “intimate” relationship with her together with two other Igbo ladies.
Following the controversial article, Bianca’s lawyers had written a letter to Fani-Kayode asking him to apologise and also retract the statement claiming he dated her many years back or face a lawsuit. In the letter, Bianca said she’s never met Fani-Kayode before.
Bianca, who spoke through her lawyers, Wall Street Attorneys, threatened to drag Fani-Kayode to court if he failed to retract his libelous publication against her within seven days, which expires today.
In the letter from her lawyers to Fani-Kayode, dated August 27, 2013 and signed by Mike Ugwuanyi, Bianca demanded that the former minister writes an apology and retraction of the said libelous publication in The Sun and Thisday newspapers, as well as publish it in the online publication, where it emanated, in the next seven days or face litigation.
Part of the letter written by Bianca’s lawyers states as thus: “We have been briefed and our services retained by Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Spain to demand from you an unreserved apology and a retraction of a false and malicious statement, which you published online and also caused to be published in the Leadership Newspaper of August 16, 2013.
“In the said article entitled, ‘Neither a Tribalist nor a Hater,’ you recklessly alleged, as follows: ‘I was not a tribalist when I had a long standing and intimate relationship with Miss Bianca Onoh…’, a statement, which you know is untrue and unfounded, but only calculated to lower our client’s esteem and damage her national and international reputation.
“Our client has never met you, does not know you in person and has never had any official or private relationship with you, how much more ‘a long-standing and intimate relationship.’
“Our client is therefore, outraged by your bizarre and scandalous allegation and the numerous mails and telephone calls she has received from friends, relations and admirers who are equally embarrassed and who seek to confirm the veracity or otherwise of your false and reckless publication.
“Your apparent lame and half-hearted attempt, as published in the Leadership Newspaper of 17th August 2013, to clarify your false and malicious allegation falls far short of a retraction and does not sufficiently address the damage to our client arising from the widespread dissemination of your false publication and is therefore unacceptable to our client.
“In the circumstances, we demand, on the instruction of our client that you submit to her a clear and unqualified apology and retraction published in The Sun and Thisday newspapers in addition to having the retraction published online.
“Take note that should you fail to tender the apology and publish a retraction of your false and malicious publication, seven days next 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.”