Fred Itua, Abuja
For allegedly maligning his reputation and making him out as a liar, a journalist and human rights advocate, Lemmy Ughegbe has instituted a libel suit against Media Trust Ltd, publishers of Daily Trust Newspaper with a claim of N500m as damages for the alleged libellous publication.
In the suit filed by his counsel, Dele Gbadeyan, which named Media Trust Ltd and Mr. John Chuks Azu as 1st and 2nd defendants, the claimant (Ughegbe) said the said publication caused grave damage to his reputation and businesses with several clients and friends, severing ties with him.
The claimant had on February 1, 2020 while examining the judgment of Justice Yusuf Halilu, which convicted Maryam Sanda over the killing of her husband during an interview on ARISE NEWS, said “the judge committed a fatal blunder when he failed to consider the preliminary objection and rule on it, one way or the other before delivering his judgment.”
According to him, it is settled law that Justice Halilu’s failure to rule on this said preliminary objection was a compelling ground to for Ms. Sanda to seek for its nullification upon appeal.
However, Daily Trust in a Fact Check captioned “Did the judge ignore ruling on a preliminary objection in Maryam Sanda’s case?” published on February 4, 2020 declared that the judge ruled on the preliminary objection on February 5, 2018 contrary to the claims made by Ughegbe.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the activist said “while Daily Trust made me out as a liar by this publication, thereby reducing my estimation before right thinking members of the public, a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the records of court proceedings showed clearly that the preliminary objection was filed on February 7, 2018 and argued on March 19, 2018. It is therefore curious how Daily Trust Newspapers would suggest that a judge ruled on an application two days before it was even filed and about 15 days before it was argued upon.”
In the writ of summons filed by the claimant’s lawyer, Ughegbe averred that the said publication of February 4, 2020 portrayed him as “a liar, someone with a low moral rectitude who is ready to mislead the public even on very grave issues as murder trial, and unreliable person.”
The claimant, who is also a school owner and a media consultant, said the said publication caused him reputation damage, consequently leading to a dip in his business fortune.
He, therefore, wants the court to grant him a declaration that the publication published on the Daily Trust website on the 4th of February, 2020 is defamatory of the person of the claimant.
He has urged the court to make a declaration that the claimant is entitled to public apology by all the defendants.
He wants an order directing the defendants to publicly apologise to the claimant by publishing the said apology in the defendant’s newspaper for one week.
The sum of N500 million is being demanded as damages against the defendants for the said defamation.