By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr Dave Umahi has dragged an online publishing outlet, Peoples Gazette, before an Abakaliki High Court over alleged defamatory publications.
In the suit marked: HAB/36/2021, Governor Umahi and two other plaintiffs, Mr. Austin Umahi and Brass Engineering & Construction Nigeria Limited, said the paper’s ‘offending’ publications of 29 and 30 January, 2021, caused them “peculiar and special damages.”
The plaintiffs’ statement of claim named the Peoples Gazette and the author of the said defamatory reports, Nimi Princewil, as 1st and 2nd defendants, respectively.
According to Governor Umahi, the paper’s defamatory reports are “having weighty negative effects on his political career.”
He averred that he had suffered loss of confidence among his political base, as many of his discerning political associates instantly shunned him after the publications. In the case filed on their behalf by Mr. Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), the plaintiffs informed the court that they had suffered general falling-off of business, as they suffered loss of income and finances.
Sequel to the foregoing, the plaintiffs said the defendants are liable to payment of N2 billion (2, 000, 000, 000 .00), as an atonement for bringing “shame, mockery and humiliation to the plaintiffs through the unsubstantiated publications.”
The governor and two other plaintiffs, in their reliefs, urged the court to compel the defendants to issue a retraction of all the “disparaging publications” against them.
“An order of the court to the defendants to issue a written apology to the plaintiffs.
“The retraction and apology are to be aired over and or published: AIT, in two national dailies and in all the other Internet/social media network where the defamations were published.”
“An order of the court to the defendants to pay to the plaintiffs the sum of Two Billion Naira (2, 000, 000, 000. 00) as damages and aggravated damages for the defamation of the plaintiffs (and the said sum is to be shared by the defendants to all the orphanage homes as will be directed by the plaintiffs.”
“A perpetual order of injunction restraining the defendants, whether by their servants, agents or otherwise from publishing or causing to be published the said or similar defamations against the plaintiffs.”
“An award of the sum of (N2, 000, 000. 00) Two Million Naira only being the cost of the filing and the prosecution of this suit.”
Meanwhile, the presiding judge, Justice E. A. Ngene, has granted an ex-parte application of the plaintiffs for leave of court to serve the writ of summons and other relevant processes concerning the suit on the 1st and 2nd defendants outside jurisdiction.
A certified true copy of the order sighted by our correspondent on Tuesday, said, “The leave of this Honourable Court is hereby granted to the applicants (plaintiffs) to serve the writ of summons and other relevant processes in this suit on the 1st and 2nd defendants outside the jurisdiction of this court, that is, at their registered office of the 1st defendant which is located and situated at Plot 1095, Umar Shuaibu Avenue, Utako, Abuja.”
In the enrolled order dated March 24, 2021, and signed by the judge, the case is adjourned till May 17, 2021, for pre-trial conference.