By Tope Fayehun, Akure
Former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State,Hon. Ebenezer Alabi, has hailed the judgement of Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over libelous publication against former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Amnesty, Mr Kingsley Kuku .
The court presided by Justice Jude Okeke, ordered the an Abuja based weekly newspaper to pay N10 million to the former Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Program for malicious report on its tabloid.
The newspaper had in its publication of between July and August 2015 described Kuku as a fugitive who fled abroad after he had been declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
Aggrieved by the publication, Kuku through his counsel, Mr Solomon Tuyan filed the suit seeking retraction of the publication and payment of damages for the libelous publication.
Kuku approached an Abuja High asking for N500 million as damages against the newspaper, which published that Kuku was declared, wanted by the EFFC for misappropriation during his tenure as Presidential Adviser.
However, the newspaper through its counsel B.E Effiong said the publication was done in public interest and that it was in line of duty to inform the public.
But two years after the filing of the suit and calling of witnesses including officials of the anti-graft agency, the court asked the newspaper to withdraw the publication.
Justice Okeke in his verdict granted a “declaration that the publication in pages 1 and 3 of your July 27 to August 2 edition of the Abuja Enquirer volume 11 caption Kingsley Kuku flees Nigeria written of and concerning the plaintiff is libelous and defamatory.”
Also, the court ordered the defendant to render an unreserved apology to the plaintiff, retract the defamatory publication contained in pages 1 and 3 of your July 27 to August 2 edition of the Abuja Enquirer volume 11 where he described the former Amnesty Boss as fugitive.
Besides, the court ordered the newspaper to within 14 days publish a retraction of the libelous and injurious publication in two other national newspapers.
Reacting to the judgement in Akure, the Ondo State capital, Alabi said the judgement would serve as a lesson to journalists who allow themselves to be used by politicians to write sensational news or reports from the pit of hell.
He said the supporters of Kingsley Kuku ,especially in the riverine areas of the state, welcomed the judgement with wild jubilation and celebration .
Alabi noted that the former amnesty boss has been vindicated with judgement .
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