Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufa’i, on Wednesday gave evidence at a Kaduna High Court in a libel suit he instituted against the publishers of The Union Newspaper. He had sued the Lagos based newspaper for reporting that he declared assets worth N90billion before the Code of Conduct Bureau.
In July 2015, less than two months after he took office, The Union published a story, about the governor’s asset. In the story, The Union allegedly invented figures it said the governor held in cash and assets. The newspaper claimed that there was uneasy calm and shock in Kaduna over the false assets they had reported.
The newspaper had on June 2015 published a story alleging that el-Rufa’i declared assets worth N90billion, including 40 mansions scattered across the country. The governor described the story as “untrue and malicious” shortly after signing the writ of summons.
“Let them come and prove that I am as rich as they claimed. I hope I lose the suit because if I have all these money, I would do a lot more for Kaduna State with the money.
“No one can be sworn into office as governor without declaring his assets. So, every governor in Nigeria; every elected official must have declared his assets before the chief judge swears him in. It is not even a question requiring an answer,” he said.
The governor, accompanied by his deputy, Barnabas Bala, appeared before Justice Mairo Muhammed.
Led in evidence by his counsel A.U. Mustapha, Mr. el-Rufa’i said he was in court to seek justice over alleged attempt by the publishers of The Union to scandalise him.
During cross-examination by counsel to the defence, Mr. el-Rufa’i said he declared his asset as governor-elect as mandated by the constitution, prior to taking the oath of office as Governor of Kaduna State.
He said he had become very successful and comfortable as a chartered Quantity Surveyor while still young.
Following the conclusion of cross-examination, the court adjourned to June 15 for the defence to open its case.