A civil servant with Bayelsa State Ministry of Justice Jonah Okah, was yesterday, remanded in Okaka Prison by Magistrate Pere Bossa of Magistrate Court 7 for alleged criminal defamation of Mr. Ritchie Etonye, the Government House Accountant.
The matter was adjourned to September 20.
Okah’s arrest and prosecution followed a petition to the police by Etonye over a false allegation by Okah which he also publicised on his Facebook account.
According to the petition, Okah claimed that he had discussed with Etonye on phone and that he confessed to have absconded with $4.6 million belonging to the state government.
While expressing his innocence, Etonye stressed in the petition dated August 30, 2016, that he neither discussed with Okah as claimed nor absconded with any money belonging to the state government.
He stated that he was with Governor Seriake Dickson, at the time of Okah’s false allegation, adding that he had travelled with his boss to Akure in Ondo State where the governor was the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary election.
“No conversation took place between Mr.Jonah and myself. The whole story (allegation) is a figment of the author’s imagination, deliberately crafted to maliciously defame my person, character and ridicule my office,” he stated.
Etonye, who expressed dismay over Okah’s conduct, had therefore petitioned the police to invite and interrogate Okah to prove his allegations as he also threatened litigation to defend his hard-earned reputation.
He stated that Okah’s action constituted an offence under Section 302 of the Criminal Code law of Bayelsa State.
He, however, requested Okah’s unreserved apology which should also be disseminated via same media he used for the false allegation against him as a condition to halt litigation against Okah.
Etonye requested Okah to publish the apology letter in two national newspapers and two local papers with a copy addressed to his professional body, the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) to clear his name of any misconduct.
“The allegation of stealing and absconding made against me by Mr. Jonah Okah has subjected me to terrible shock, psychological trauma, low professional self-esteem and robbed me of the goodwill I have laboured hard to earn over the years. It was a maliciously crafted propaganda designed to impugn my person, reputation and profession as a chartered accountant”, he stated.