Human Right & Advocacy

Masari Demands N10bn from Journalists for Alleged Defamation

By James Danjuma, Katsina

Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari has demanded for a N10 billion compensation from two journalists for alleged defamation of character.

The governor also demanded that the reporters tender a written apology and publish same in eight national dailies within the next one week.

The demand followed a press statement issued on January 2, by the journalists, Emmanuel Ogbeche and Ochaika Ugwu, chairman and secretary of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT Council, respectively.

In the statement, the reporters had accused Masari of ordering security operatives to arrest another reporter, Nelson Omonu, who works with the Summit Post Newspaper, Abuja.

They alleged that Masari ordered the arrest over an allegation of character defamation by Nelson, and whisked him away in ‘commando style’ to Katsina.

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Hours later, Ogbeche and Ugwu issued another statement after the first one, apologising for mistaking Masari for another person who had ordered the reporters arrest.

However, Masari through his lawyer, E.O Obunadike, said the apology was inadequate, even as he demanded for N10 billion in damages and an apology in eight national dailies.

Masari’s lawyer said the first press statement had in “no small measure, blisteringly defamed, injured the character and hard earned reputation of our client, which was painstakingly built and nurtured over decades thereby exposing him to a lot of embarrassment, public ridicule and condemnation.”

He said the retraction should be done in eight national dailies, and that the sum of “N10 billion be paid as compensatory damages.”

He added that his client would take “legitimate steps in accordance with the provisions of the law towards initiating criminal and civil proceedings” should the reporters refuse to respond within seven days.

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