ENUGU, Nigeria – The feud between two Egba leaders in Ogun State, former Gov Olusegun Osoba and former Senator Femi Okurounmu, has got messier with Osoba dragging the ex-Senator to court over alleged libelous publications against him.
Osoba, through his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), on Friday, dragged Okurounmu before an Ogun State High Court sitting in Abeokuta.
DAILY POST reports that the legal action was as a result of a newspaper interview published in July, in which Okurounmu allegedly described Osoba as a “traitor and double-faced politician” who betrayed the acclaimed winner of June 13, 1993 presidential election, late Chief MKO Abiola.
The Afenifere leader, Okurounmu, according to the report, described Osoba as a “betrayer, a liar and traitor, a double-faced politician, an agent of security forces” among others.
Responding, however, Osoba replied Okurounmu in another publication, saying he (Okurounmu) was “a frustrated and unfulfilled politician, a failure in his chosen profession, a poor student of history”, adding that the former Senator’s relentless attacks on him were out of jealousy.
Not satisfied, Osoba, through his lawyer, shortly after the publications, gave Okurounmu a 14-day ultimatum to retract the publications and tender unreserved apologies.
It was learnt that Okurounmu’s refusal to comply with Osoba’s request within the stipulated time prompted the legal tussle.
Apart from asking the defendant to retract the controversial publications in two national newspapers, the former governor is also demanding a sum of N3billion as aggravated and exemplary damages.
In a July 23 letter, Olanipekun had declared that the words employed by the Afenifere chieftain in defaming his client were weighty and far-reaching.
Olanipekun claimed that his client’s “hard-earned reputation” had been seriously dented and damaged by the publications while “he has also suffered considerable distress and embarrassment.”
He, therefore, demanded a retraction of the said interviews and a public apology to be published on the front pages of seven consecutive editions of the concerned newspapers.
Osoba also asked the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from further publishing libelous publications against him.
Former Governor Osoba and Okurounmu, who once represented Ogun Central senatorial district, served in their respective offices from 1999 to 2003 under different political parties.
While Osoba was elected governor under the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Okurounmu became senator under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), fueling suspicions that the imbroglio between the two octogenarians might be political.