BY HEMBADOON ORSAR, Makurdi
A Makurdi High Court presided over by Justice Maurice Ikpambese,yesterday ordered the Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav and the Nigerian Pilot Newspapers to pay N10 million as damages to Mr. Abrahams Kwaghngu, senior special assistant on special duties to Governor Samuel Ortom, for libel.
Justice Ikpambese also directed them to publish a retraction of the defamatory and libelous publication in three national dailies circulating within the state as well as a paid advertorial on the prime beat of the Nigerian Television Authority, Radio Benue, and Harvest FM.
Delivering judgment in a suit number MHC/251/15 Justice Ikpambese held that the defense of fair comment does not avail Alhaji Tsav who is the first defendant in the case.
Mr. Kwaghngu had instituted a suit against the Public Complaints Commissioner in Benue State and the newspaper for describing him as a killer, thug, and vandal, who killed Hausa and Kabawa people during a crisis in Gbajimba in 2013 and also destroyed their property as contained in a story published in the Nigeria Pilot Newspaper of 31st August, 2015.
The judge stated that “considering the falsity of the story the first defendant had no moral, social or legal interest or duty to have published it in the media and Pilot Newspaper for public consumption.”
“It is abuse of powers for the first defendant to enlarge his coast by renewing and wading into Gbajimba crisis when he had already found nothing against the plaintiff during General Atom Kpera-led panel,” he stressed.