Defamation: Group writes Buhari, seeks Sylva’s sack over summons by US Court
Nigerians for Transformational Change (NTC) , a civil society group, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva over alleged summon by the United States Federal Court to defend his defamation case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The case is scheduled for the 11th of August 2022.
The group accused the Minister of alleged gross incompetence in handling the nation’s fuels crisis and for using taxpayers money to fund the legal fees and planned appearance before the U.S Court.
A United States Federal Court Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Joseph Lesson,Jnr, had ordered the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva to appear in person on the 11th of August 2022 to defend his defamation case against Mr. Jackson Ude over publications of a story alleging bribery, fraud and corruption in the award of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Train 7 Contract in joint venture led by Italy’s Saipem in the amount of $4 billion for engineering, procurement and construction of Nigeria LNG’s seventh production unit at its Bonny Island plant in Rivers state.
The group, represented by Engr. Lawan Yahaya, in a statement issued to journalists via electronic mail, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, stating that “despite Sylva’s gross incompetence in handling the petroleum industry, which is destroying our aviation sector, Sylva wants to jeopardize our national security by appearing in a U.S. federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where he might be publicly grilled by the defendant’s legal team to reveal government contractual agreements, transactions, and other issues bordering on our nation’s security interests.”
Engr. Yahaya commended the Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN) for speaking on the continued scarcity of fuel in Nigeria and the pains of having adulterated fuel in circulation, and how it has further increased the hardship Nigerians are going through.
“How can we be a major oil producer but have failed to fix our refineries and find lasting solution to the challenge of oil subsidy? Nigerians should not continue to suffer due to the negligence and incompetence of people holding public offices. Why should our leaders abuse the patience of our Citizens?”
“Nigerians are still battling with insecurity, poverty, and now fuel crisis and nobody has ever been held responsible for all our pains, sufferings, and the poor services that we are getting. Unless and until someone takes responsibility to deliver services to citizens or to resign for failure to deliver services to the nation this evil may not end soon.,” the statement said.
Yahaya wondered how Sylva who has been arrested in the past by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria on allegations of fraud and corruption amounting to millions of dollars, including allegations of fraudulently owing 48 properties, can successfully prove defamation in a Federal U.S. court, notwithstanding the possible case of perjury that might emanate from his sworn statement before the U.S. Federal Court in which Sylva allegedly claimed to have never been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), possible perjury cases surrounding his alleged degrees falsification, allegations of money-laundering, witness tampering and threat of violence.
Engr. Yahaya called on President Buhari to immediately sack the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva before he further drags the nation’s name into disrepute.
An associate to Sylva, who pleaded anonymity, dismissed the group’s call and described the defamation case as one that will follow legal direction and should not be used to blackmail the Minister out of office.
“It was the Minister that filed the defamation suit against Jackson Ude and why should such suit be now used to call for his sack. We stand with the Minister in this case,” the associate said.