Alleged Defamation: Betta Edu threatens BBC with $50m libel suit


Suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu has threatened to sue the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for $50m over an alleged defamatory report published on its website.

BBC had published a report titled: “Betta Edu probe: Nigeria recovers $24m in Poverty Minister investigation- EFCC” which the minister said put her in bad light.

The minister specifically said the report was tweaked to make her appear guilty of corruption.

In a letter to the BBC on April 9, 2024 by Ojukwu Chikaosolu and Co Law firm, Edu is demanding immediate retraction of the report.

It stated Edu has neither been indicted nor found culpable of any act of financial impropriety, adding neither N30 billion nor any amount whatsoever has been traced to or recovered from Edu’s bank accounts.

The firm insisted no proceed of crime has been traced or recovered from her to warrant the scurrilous article under reference.

It demanded retraction of the story as well as an apology to Edu failing which a libel suit will be instituted against the media organisation.

“Should BBC fail and/or neglect to comply with the above demands, Edu has vowed to initiate swift legal action(s) before the appropriate courts to obtain redress for the alleged injurious falsehood peddled in the BBC’s article, and to seek punitive and exemplary damages for $50 million against the BBC for the damage and injury suffered by her.

“Recall that BBC recently published an article on its website: (Last accessed on 9th April 2024 at 17:40 GMT) titled: “Betta Edu Probe: Nigeria Recovers $24m in Poverty Minister Investigation- EFCC” with the sub-heading “Nigeria Has Recovered 30bn Naira ($24m; £19m) as Part of an Ongoing Corruption probe Into a Suspended Minister, the Financial Watchdog Says”.

“The aforesaid article, which presents information purporting to relate to an ongoing corruption probe into the activities of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria, is replete with innuendoes and insinuations which suggest that N30 billion has been recovered in the course of the ongoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from her and that the 50 bank accounts connected with the recovered sums are linked to her.

“Furthermore, your article proceeds to cast aspersion on our client by referencing her earlier suspension (to allow for unfettered investigations) in the following terms: Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation Minister Betta Edu was initially suspended in January over the alleged diversion of $640,000 of public money into a personal bank account.

“First and foremost, the language used in describing our client’s purported involvement in the alleged corruption case suggests guilt without allowing for the presumption of innocence, which is fundamental in any fair and unbiased reporting.

“The reckless manner in which the article was crafted, without providing our client with the opportunity to respond to the allegations before its wide publication, is a clear breach of journalistic fairness and due process and demonstrates a complete disregard for journalistic integrity and professionalism.

“The headline, content, and tone of the article imply guilt on the part of our client, without any concrete evidence to substantiate such claims.

“This is a blatant attempt to tarnish our client’s reputation and undermine her credibility which she has earned throughout her distinguished career in both private and public life,” the letter stated.

It added: “Suffice it to say that in the aftermath of the publication of this scandalous article (which the BBC caused to be disseminated to millions of persons across the globe), our client has been inundated by calls and messages from friends, associates expressing their shock and consternation.

“Our client has suffered immeasurable reputational damage, psychological trauma and anguish as a direct consequence of the publication and dissemination of the article..

“Furthermore, we demand that the BBC, within 48 hours from the receipt of this correspondence, issue and publish an immediate and unqualified retraction of the aforementioned article and a public apology to our client, for the false and defamatory content published.

“This retraction and apology must be given the same prominence as the initial offensive article,” it explained.

“Should the BBC fail and/or neglect to comply with the above demands, the law firm posited that it would take legal action against the media platform.

“We have our client’s instructions to, without further recourse to the BBC, initiate swift legal action(s) before the appropriate Courts to obtain redress for the injurious falsehood peddled in your article, and to seek punitive and exemplary damages for $50 million against the BBC for the damage and injury suffered by our client.”

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