How I Recovered My Vehicle From US Authorities – Kachikwu

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A former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has explained how he recovered his jaguar car, which was erroneously impounded by US authorities, and maliciously described as stolen in some online reports. Kachikwu denied receiving N9.7 billion in his bank account, and threatened to sue an online publication that claimed he smuggled the jaguar car to the US and was impounded.

First Bank also denied the publication with regard to his transaction with the bank.

The former minister made a demand of N3 billion compensation from the online publication, People’s Gazette, following the false and malicious publication.

The minister, in a letter addressed to the Publisher of the People’s Gazette through his counsel, Mike Ozhekome’s Chambers and titled: “Libelous Publications against Dr Ibe Kachikwu-Demand for Retraction and Compensation”, sought the sum of N3 billion as compensation and a retraction of the said publication.

It said the online newspaper had in its August 23, 2021 edition claimed that Kachikwu purchased a stolen vehicle, which was smuggled from a United Kingdom Assembly to California in the United States. It said the publication “maliciously and falsely” portrayed the former minister as a smuggler.

The letter also stated that the publication claimed the former minister received the sum of N9.7 billion in his First Bank account while he served as minister, which it said denoted his appetite for luxury goods and accommodation.

The letter said, “The aforementioned publications, which were deliberately calculated to do maximum damage to his esteemed person, image and hard-earned goodwill and integrity, falsely alleged that our client smuggled a stolen jaguar car into the United States of America.

“You went further in your baseless, provocative and malicious publication to falsely allege that our client ‘received N9.7 billion in his personal First Bank account, which denotes his appetite for luxury good and accommodation’ and portrayed our client as a corrupt, dishonest, dishonourable, unscrupulous, debased and degenerated decadent public officer.”

Kachikwu, also a former Group Managing Director of NNPC, said through his lawyers he was inundated with calls, messages, emails from friends and associates from within and outside the country, who have expressed worry and concern over the development.

The letter further explained that the former minister had procured a jaguar car from Nigeria and used it for some years after which he sent it as a gift to a relation in the United States.

He said, “US Customs erroneously impounded the car mistaking it as a stolen car and an emission control infringement as cars with European and African emission control specifications cannot be used in the USA.”

He said he made the details of the purchase available to the US authorities, who reached out to the car dealer in Nigeria, and later apologised to him upon which it was released to him and he subsequently brought the car back to Nigeria.

Kachikwu also debunked the claim that some N9.7 billion was found in his First Bank account, insisting that while he maintained a domiciliary account, the statement put out a false transaction of N9.7 billion inside a dollar domiciliary account.

The minister, therefore, demanded that the publishers pay him N3 billion compensation, retract the story and desist from further similar, defamatory publication and tender an unreserved apology to be published in five national dailies.

The letter said failure to adhere to the demands within seven days, the former minister would be left with no other option than to seek legal redress.

Meanwhile, First Bank Nigeria PlC, has faulted the accuracy of the details provided by the online publication.

A letter written to the minister in response to the status of the account with regard to the publication did not emanate from the bank.

The letter obtained by THISDAY and signed by Rotimi Akinbode and Janice Aleto, said the published bank statements did not reflect the true state of the accounts.

The letter read, “We refer to your email of August 24 in which you attached court statements purportedly belonging to you that were published by an online blog and requested us to confirm whether the statements reflect the true statement of your account with our bank.

“Having reviewed the statement, we wish to state that the account numbers quoted are your visa infinite card and US dollar account with First Bank. However, the statements are not in line with those issued by First Bank and did not emanate from us. They do not reflect the true state of your accounts and are therefore false.”