Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Civil group, Incorporated Trustee of Global Integrity Crusade Network has instituted a N2 billion suit against Sahara Reporters and Vanguard Media Limited and two others over alleged defamatory publications made against the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami (SAN).
In the fundamental human rights enforcement suit, the group, which joined Omoyele Sowore and Kabiru Akingbolu as other defendants is praying the Federal High Court in Abuja for an order compelling the defendants to jointly and severally pay Malami the N2 billion as compensation for the trauma, emotional stress, damage and or injury caused the AGF due to the alleged propaganda, fake news and blackmail published in the July 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 18, 2020 edition of their media organisations.
The plaintiff’s enforcement of fundamental human rights, brought pursuant to Section 34, 37 and 46 of the 1999 constitution and Articles of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Right is marked FHC/ABJ/CS/816/2020 and dated July 20, 2020.
Plaintiff which claimed to have instituted the court action on behalf of the AGF is praying for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, either by themselves, agents, privies and correspondents and representatives from further publishing articles or news items capable of causing trauma, emotional stress, damage or injury to the person of Abubakar Malami.
The group also applied for an order directing the four respondents to retract all the libelous publications made against the person of the AGF captioned, “Nigeria’s Attorney General, Malami buys multimillion mansions for newly married son, guest flouts social distancing guidelines during lavished wedding ceremony”.
Plaintiff also sought for another order of court directing Omoyele Sowore and Kabiru Akingbolu to issue a well worded public apology to Malami to be published on the platforms of the Sahara Reporters and Vanguard Media and front pages of three newspapers of wide coverage in Nigeria for the libelous publications made against him within seven days from the date judgment is delivered in this matter.
In a 36-paragraph facts in support of the suit, instituted by Edward Omaga on behalf of the plaintiff, the civil group claimed to have been registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and has the mandate to advance human rights and support the fight against corruption, terrorism and economic sabotage and is based in Abuja.
Plaintiff averred that Sahara Reporters is an independent online news medium based in New York city and Lagos and published stories on its websites about corruption, human rights abuses and political misconduct in Nigeria.
The group stated that Vanguard Media on its part published wide range of news items on its websites, while Abubakar Malami is a renowned legal practitioner and presently serves as the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The group alleged that on 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 18th of July, 2020, Omoyele Sowore and Kabiru Akingbolu published series of prejudicial articles against Malami with the singular aim of disparaging his reputation before the right thinking members of the society.
Plaintiff further stated that due to trauma, emotional stress and damage caused Malami by Sowore and Akingbolu with the use of their news media, the AGF is entitled to monetary compensation and public apology for the unlawful violation of his fundamental rights.
The group therefore asked the court to declare that the publications by Sowore and Kabiru Akingbolu are tantamount to violation of Malami’s fundamental rights to dignity of human person, private and family life as well as integrity,
It further asked the court to declare that Sowore and Akingbolu, by their persistent propaganda, fake news and blackmail against Malami caused injury to his character and lower his estimation in the eyes of right thinking persons in the society.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed yet for hearing of the suit.