Nasir el-Rufai has finally sued a Lagos-based publication, The Nation, for claiming he owns assets worth 90bn Naira (about $452.7m) and about 40 mansions.
He declared when he filed the suit at a Kaduna High Court: “Let them come and prove that I am as rich as they claimed”. The editor had earlier dared el-Rufai to sue.
This suit echoes the case of former British minister Jonathan Aitken, who sued the UK’s Guardian newspaper for libel. The paper had carried a story about Aitken’s dealings with wealthy Saudis, including paying for his stay at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. This was part of a joint investigation with a “World in Action” documentary. Aitken claimed at the time of suing: “If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play, so be it. I am ready for the fight. The fight against falsehood and those who peddle it. My fight begins today.”
When his libel case collapsed and Aitken was jailed for perjury, a follow-up documentary was called “Dagger of deceit”.
El-Rufai may be going down the same route. He claims he is not worth the published amount. But as we reported here there was Senate committee investigation in 2008 that found that 32bn naira ($217m) was missing from the accounts of the Federal Capital Territory which runs the capital Abuja when el-Rufai as minister. The Senate also stated that: “We came to the inevitable conclusion that Nasir el-Rufai is not a fit and proper person to hold public office in a democratic set-up.”
This is evidence pointing in the direction that el-Rufai may be fraudulent and could support the defence.
So let the case commence and let’s see whether the “sword of truth” will swing or if it will be the “dagger of deceit”.