Entertainment & SocietyFormer Minister at War With Sister-in-Law

Former Minister at War With Sister-in-Law

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February 04, (THEWILL) – Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, is up in arms with his former sister in-law, Lilian Onoh, a former Nigerian ambassador to Jamaica and Namibia, over allegations bordering on defamation and financial misappropriation.

Lilian is the daughter of late Christian Onoh, a former governor of old Anambra State. She is also the sister of Onyeama’s ex-wife, Nuzo Onoh. Both are sisters to Bianca Ojukwu, a former beauty queen and widow of late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.

Onyeama and Onoh have been involved in a legal battle in Nigeria and the United States, accusing each other of defamation.


The ex-minister, who was a member of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, had sued Onoh after the latter accused him of condoning grand corruption in some of Nigeria’s diplomatic missions abroad.

Onyeama alleged that Onoh sponsored articles that were critical of him on issues of sleaze when he was foreign affairs minister. Onoh had raised an alarm that out of the $5 million donated by the Red Cross in Nigeria to victims of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the sum of $2.8 million was being frittered away by Nigerian diplomats in Jamaica.

The Nigerian mission in Jamaica was saddled with the responsibility of applying the $5 million donation to the humanitarian disaster in the Caribbean country. She said that, prior to her arrival in Namibia as Nigeria’s high commissioner, about $600,000 was embezzled by officials who also shortchanged the Namibian Government in VAT remittances.

In defence, Onyeama said he took action on every complaint received by referring such issues to the permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and directing that investigation be conducted.

The complaints in respect of Jamaica and Namibia, he noted, were handled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, adding that the permanent secretary was charged with dealing with financial transactions and irregularities.

The former minister said he was interested in those two incidents because of their impact on Nigeria’s bilateral relationship with Jamaica and Namibia.

Onyeama claimed Onoh forwarded several media articles to his phone number and that many people advised her to desist from those libelous articles emanating from the social media, but she refused to listen. Instead, she wrote him indicating that he was trying to prevent certain media houses from publishing her defamatory articles. For this, he sued her. Onoh in turn filed a libel suit against her former brother-in-law at the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The case has been assigned to Judge Jane Boyle for adjudication, but no date has been fixed for hearing.

According to the suit filed by her lawyer, Steven Thornton, Onoh accused Onyeama and Gabriel Aduda, a former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Foreign affairs, now a permanent secretary at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, of using an online news platform (name withheld) to defame her. The said article claimed that Onoh was sacked by the Nigerian Government in 2021 on account of misappropriation of N50 million.

The article also claimed that a report by a seven-man committee indicted her over alleged financial misappropriation while serving in the Southern African country. It said that Aduda and Onyeama were members of the investigative committee that indicted Onoh for fraud. The article further stated that Onoh was ordered to refund to the Nigerian mission all the money that she had improperly used.

About a week ago, Onyeama closed his case against Lilian after cross-examination before Justice Keziah Ogbonnaya of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja. The judge adjourned the case until February 12 for Onoh to commence her defence in the suit.

Justice Ogbonnaya said Onoh could testify from her base in the US. In addition, the judge ordered the defendant to file her statement of defence alongside her witness statement on oath before the next hearing of the suit.

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