Lekan Fatodu, the UK-based journalist who accused Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, of criminal defamation, says he has nothing personal against him but they must meet in court.
Describing the owner of the news website as his friend of over 20 years, Fatodu said both of them fell out after he refused to give in to Sowore’s demand of a N100 million bribe.
Fatodu said he got a contract from the office of Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA), which he delivered and the federal government was satisfied, but Sowore demanded his own cut from the deal.
The online publisher denied the allegation, saying he had never taken bribe, and could not even solicit such from someone like Fatodu.
“This is someone I bought a ticket for to get out of this country. I was the first person that bought him ticket to leave this country. If I want bribe, it won’t be from him,” he told TheCable.
“Jonathan was there distributing money like water and they would have loved to give me, but I didn’t collect. If I was president of the University of Lagos students’ union and I didn’t take bribe, if I have been doing Sahara Reporters for 10 years without taking bribe, why will I take bribe from him?”
But Fatodu said he had compelling evidence against his estranged friend, and he had made up his mind on suing him to court.
“I am charging Sowore to court, I am pushing a criminal case, a threat to my life, and I am doing it today. I have compelling evidence against him. I have known Sowore for almost 20 years. He demanded N100 million from me from a fictitious N500 million contract from the office of the former national security adviser (NSA),” he told TheCable.
“I did a contract with the ex-NSA in 2014, and my name has not been put out for committing any crime in the course of the contract. I delivered the contract, and the NSA office was satisfied.
“So, for Sowore who is always looking for someone to rubbish to come after me is strange. This is a man I helped when he was begging for assistance, and I have evidence. I have pushed him to where he is, so he should allow me live my life.
“I have never heard that it is a crime to have a contract with government, inasmuch as you deliver what you have been given money for and you do it legitimately.
“There is no reason why he should come after me. He started calling me in 2016, asking for a cut. He said the federal government had asked people to appear before a verification committee on contracts, but the government only listed companies and not individuals.
“I don’t have anything to hide. My refusal to give in to Sowore’s selfish demand made him to malign me and also issue a threat. I have a recording where Sowore said his bank account is bigger than mine. He has been doing this to a lot of people, but today is his day.
“I have nothing personal against him; Sowore is my friend, but I have to defend my rights. Some people are saying it is a civil case, and it doesn’t warrant police intervention. Threat to life is not a civil case, it is a criminal offence.”
Fatodu said the only condition for not going to court was for Sowore to tender an apology.
“He needs to tender an apology over his dubious story before I can consider settling any issue. That is how it is done in any decent society,” he said.
Told to react to the allegation that he was acting on behalf of aggrieved politicians whose deeds had been exposed by the activist-journalist, Fatodu said: “This is strictly between us. I am not fighting on anyone’s behalf. I am just out to defend my rights. This is a threat to my life here.”
But Sowore said there was a grand conspiracy against him, and that he was prepared to go any mile to defend himself.
He accused the police of taking sides with his accuser.
“I was physically attacked by this guy and the police was called. When we got to the police station, they changed the story,” he said.
“The commissioner of police said he had a petition against me. And I was furious, because here was a guy who nearly killed me. That’s the story, not the red herring that I demanded money.
“This problem started in January 2016 when I wrote a story on him being a front for Femi Fani-Kayode. He came and even sent people to beg me to take the story down, but I said I don’t take stories on my website down because I have evidence.
“He then moved to threat, but if he has evidence that I demanded money from him, wouldn’t he have put the information out there? What has he been waiting for since January 2016? I do not demand bribe to do stories, I did not demand a kobo from him, never. Why didn’t he give you the evidence?”
Sowore said he was aware that a governor had called Fatodu to congratulate him on the latest development, but he was not worried.
“I am an activist, activism is what I do. People can hate me or love me for it. That’s what I do. I am not afraid. I heard that a governor has called to congratulate him,” he said.
“If you see the story they were pushing out yesterday, you will know that this is a serious conspiracy. Even the statement released by the police…. I love this country so much. I know there are a lot of people working behind the scene, but I am not afraid.”