Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, has given Chief Eric Umeofia, the Chief Executive Officer of Erisco Foods Limited 14 days to retract and apologise to him for the alleged defamatory statement against his person.

Effiong in a statement issued on Monday, said that in the pre-action notice his counsel, Femi Falana served Chief Umeofia and his company, he is demanding N100 million in damages with an apology letter which must be published in two national newspapers, while insisting that his demands must be complied with within the 14-days or he would commence legal case against the Erisco boss.

He said, “During his (Chief Umeofia) interview with Television Continental (TVC) on October 2, 2023, Chief Eric Umeofia, the President/CEO of Erisco Foods Limited while speaking on the ongoing case between Erisco Foods Limited and Mrs. Chioma Okoli, made a damaging, audacious and utterly libellous claim that my client dropped her previous lawyer who accompanied her to the Force Headquarters in Abuja and went to Lagos to hire “a fake lawyer, a charge and bail lawyer to deceive her.”

He explained that the video of the interview where the claims were made was advertised on the Facebook page of Erisco Foods Limited and viewed by a “large number of people”.

“Chief Umeofia knew exactly who he was referring to since my engagement and representation of Chioma was already a matter of public knowledge.

“My attention has repeatedly been drawn by my clients, colleagues, associates, and members of the public to the malicious claims made against me by Umeofia. Those who have confronted me over these claims were taken aback by Umeofia’s bold assertion that they have been dealing with an imposter who has been falsely masquerading himself as a lawyer all these years.

“These claims have caused me prolonged emotional stress and deep anxiety. I have lost professional engagements and financial opportunities because of these claims.

“I have practiced law in Nigeria for the past ten years; having been duly called to the Nigerian Bar as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. My name is on the Roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria and can be easily verified.”

He added that Chief Umeofia’s claim that “I am a fake lawyer who was out to deceive my client is dangerous and intended to destroy my career which I have laboured to build for a decade.

“His claim that I am a charge and bail lawyer is also malicious and defamatory. The courts have ruled in previous cases that referring to any lawyer as “charge and bail” is defamatory and actionable.

“Based on the foregoing, I have briefed my counsel, the foremost human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN to take legal action on my behalf against Eric Umeofia and Erisco Foods Limited over the said obnoxious and destructive claims.

“In a demand letter served on Erisco Foods Limited on Monday, April 8, 2024, Falana SAN has demanded a written apology from the company and its CEO, which must be published in at least two national newspapers, a full retraction of the defamatory statements and the sum of N100 Million as damages which they must comply with within 14 days.”

According to SAHARA REPORTERS, he, however, vowed that this was only the beginning of his legal actions against Umeofia and Erisco Foods.

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