Okoi Obono Obla sues Thisday for defamation

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The Plaintiff’s claim against the Defendants jointly and severally is as follows: 1.   The sum of N500 Million (Five Hundred Million Naira) as General/Aggravated Damages for defamation which the  1st and 2nd Defendants falsely and maliciously caused the 3rd and 4th Defendants to publish in This Day Newspaper Edition of  11th November,

2012,  and the Online Edition of This Day Newspaper of 16th November, 2012, respectively  concerning the Plaintiff in a story titled “MAKOJU, NDOMA-EGBA NOT INVOLVED IN  LPFO SCAM” the following words thus:

“Erstwhile Managing Director of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Engr.  Joseph Oyeyani Makoju and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Knut Ndoma-Egba have refuted allegations by Messrs Ringardas Nig. Ltd  that both of them in collusion with others allegedly stole 25,000 metric tonnes of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) from a storage tank in Sapele in 2006. Recall that This day had on October, 23, 2012 published a story in which Ringardas said it petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over the alleged fraud. Their Solicitors, Bernard E. Afu and Associates (Fountain Chambers) Legal Practitioners and Consultants in a letter to THISDAY dated 08 November, 2012, stated that the allegation against their clients is ‘false, wicked and libellous’. According to the letter signed by the Head of Chambers, Bernard Afu Esq, ‘...the EFCC and ICPC investigated this same publication and established its falsehood in 2008’. The purported petition indicated that Makoju, Ndoma-Egba and others had pilfered Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO), with market value of over N200 million from a storage tank at Sapele leased to Ringardas. Ringardas, stated Makoju’s solicitors, had long before now extricated itself from any connection to the petition. ‘Similarly, on the 13th August, 2008 MESSRS RINGARDAS NIGERIA LIMITED, in a letter to the Chairman of EFCC, categorically denied publication of any such publication or petition’ Fountain Chamber’s wrote. The Law firm also added that: ‘in the same vein, the writer of the petition i.e. Barrister Okoi Obono-Obla was charged before an Abuja Magistrate Court with the offence of criminal defamation contrary to section 391 and 392 of the penal code and an arrest warrant issued against him on the 4th February, 2009.”

2.   An Order of this Honourable Court directing the 3rd and 4th Defendants to  retract the said publication and cause it to be removed from the Internet within 48 hours of the delivery of Judgment in this case.

3.   An Order of Perpetual Injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd Defendants from causing to be published through the 3rd and 4th Defendants or any other medium further defamation against the Plaintiff.

4.   An Order of Perpetual Injunction restraining the 3rd and 4th Defendants from publishing any further defamation against the Plaintiff.  

5.   The Costs of this proceeding which is accessed at N200, 000.00 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira) only. 

This Writ of Summons was issued BY OBONO, OBONO AND ASSOCIATES, LEGAL PRACTITIONERS & CONSULTANT, Solicitors to the Plaintiffs who are carrying on business at Trinity House, Second Floor, Mabushi, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERITORY NIGERIA

IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION

HOLDEN AT ABUJA

SUIT NO. FCT/HC/CV/      /2012

BETWEEN:

BARRISTER OKOI OBONO-OBLA   -               PLAINTIFF

AND

1.   BERNARD AFU, ESQUIRE

2.   BERNARD E. AFU & ASSOCIATES

(FOUNTAIN CHAMBERS)

3.   LEADERS & COMPANY                         DEFENDANTS

(PUBLISHERS OF THIS DAY

NEWSPAPER)

4.   MUHAMMED BELLO

STATEMENT OF CLAIM

1.   The Plaintiff is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. The Plaintiff has practiced Law for more than 21 years.

2.   The Plaintiff is a well known Human Rights Activist, Essayist and Anti-Corruption Advocate, Social and Civil Society Activist in Nigeria and abroad. 

3.   The Plaintiff is a recipient of the International Visitors Leadership Programme of the Government of the United States of America in 1997 in recognition for his social advocacy works in Nigeria.

4.   The Plaintiff is also a recipient of the Distinguished Visitor Award of the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, College of Law, and University of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America in 1997 in recognition of his work for the promotion of the values of accountability, transparency, Human Rights and Rule of Law in Nigeria.

5.   The Plaintiff is a Fellow of Law 457 of the prestigious Salzburg Global Seminars (2008) based in Salzberg, Republic of Austria.

6.   The Plaintiff is a former Member of the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, 2004 - 2006. The Plaintiff was also former Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Bar Association, Calabar Branch, 1994 - 1998.

7.   The Plaintiff was a Governorship Candidate of the National Conscience Party in Cross River State, 2003. The Plaintiff has been the National Legal Adviser and Member Board of Trustees of the Congress for Progressive Change, a registered Political Party in the Federal Republic of Nigeria since July 2009 - December, 30th 2010. Presently, the Plaintiff is the National Deputy Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change.

8.   The Plaintiff was a former Board Member of the National Park Service of Nigeria, 2005 - 2007.

9.   The Plaintiff was a Member of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Management of African Petroleum Plc constituted by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to probe the affairs of African Petroleum Plc in 2002.

10.                The Plaintiff is an Honorary Chieftaincy Holder of Obol Kobil of Ijiman, Ugep, Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State of Nigeria, 2006. The Plaintiff is also a Holder of an Honorary Chieftaincy title of Obol Bongbongkayodor of Ajere Community in Ekori, Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State, 1998.

11.                The Plaintiff is a Traditional Ruler in his capacity as Obol Kepon of Letamkpankom, Ijiman Town, Ugep, Yakurr Local Government of Cross River State of Nigeria.

12.                The Plaintiff is the Principal Partner of Obono, Obono & Associates, Legal Practitioners & Consultants based in Abuja, Nigeria.

13.                The 1st Defendant is the owner of the Firm known as Bernard E. Afu & Associates, Legal Practitioners & Consultants (aka Fountain Chambers) 2nd Defendant based in Abuja.

14.                The 3rd Defendant is a limited liability company incorporated under the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the printer and publisher of This Day Newspapers.

15.                The 3rd Defendant publishes two editions of This Day Newspapers for Northern and Southern Nigeria.

16.                The Northern Edition of This Day Newspaper is printed and published at This Day Newspaper, Leaders & Company Limited, Plot 1, Sector Centre B, Jabi Business District, Solomon Lar Way, Jabi North East, Abuja, Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court.

17.                The 4th Plaintiff is a Reporter or Writer or Staff or Agent of This Day Newspaper, Leaders & Company Limited, Plot 1, Sector Centre B, Jabi Business District, Solomon Lar Way, Jabi North East, Abuja, Nigeria.

18.                The Plaintiff avers that on or about the 11th November, 2012, & 16th November, 2012, respectively, the Defendants in collusion published  a story or news titled “MAKOJU, NDOMA-EGBA NOT INVOLVED IN  LPFO SCAM” in the This Day Newspaper and This Day Online respectively concerning the Plaintiff the following defamation thus:

“Erstwhile Managing Director of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Engr.  Joseph Oyeyani Makoju and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Knut Ndoma-Egba have refuted allegations by Messrs Ringardas Nig. Ltd  that both of them in collusion with others allegedly stole 25,000 metric tonnes of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) from a storage tank in Sapele in 2006. Recall that This day had on October, 23, 2012 published a story in which Ringardas said it petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over the alleged fraud. Their Solicitors, Bernard E. Afu and Associates (Fountain Chambers) Legal Practitioners and Consultants in a letter to THISDAY dated 08 November, 2012, stated that the allegation against their clients is ‘false, wicked and libellous’. According to the letter signed by the Head of Chambers, Bernard Afu Esq, ‘...the EFCC and ICPC investigated this same publication and established its falsehood in 2008’. The purported petition indicated that Makoju, Ndoma-Egba and others had pilfered Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO), with market value of over N200 million from a storage tank at Sapele leased to Ringardas. Ringardas, stated Makoju’s solicitors, had long before now extricated itself from any connection to the petition. ‘Similarly, on the 13th August, 2008 MESSRS RINGARDAS NIGERIA LIMITED, in a letter to the Chairman of EFCC, categorically denied publication of any such publication or petition’ Fountain Chamber’s wrote. The Law firm also added that: ‘in the same vein, the writer of the petition i.e. Barrister Okoi Obono-Obla was charged before an Abuja Magistrate Court with the offence of criminal defamation contrary to section 391 and 392 of the penal code and an arrest warrant issued against him on the 4th February, 2009.”

19.                The Plaintiff avers that there was no iota of truth in the said publication against him.

20.                The defamatory publications were syndicated by the Defendants to several online news agencies in the World including All African. Com.

21.                The Plaintiff avers that there was no time he was charged before an Abuja Magistrate’s Court of the offence with ‘Criminal Defamation contrary to Section 391 and 392 of the Penal Code in 2008’ or in any other day contrary to the false and malicious publication shown above.

22.                The Plaintiff as a  Legal Practitioner was instructed by Messrs Ringardas Nigeria Limited on or about the 15th July, 2008 & 10th November, 2010, respectively to write to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and the Nigeria Police Force a Petition concerning the theft of 25,000 Metric Tonnes each of LPFO at PHCN Tank Farm concerning Joseph Makoju, William Tuku Ogon and Knut Ndoma-Egba at Sapele Power Business Unit Ogorode, Sapele, Delta State, Nigeria.

23.                The Plaintiff avers that he was instructed at his Office at Drive 6 House 8, Ministers Quarters, Mabushi, Abuja, on or about the 15th July, 2008, by Nick Simpson a Belgian National who was working with Ringardas Nigeria Limited as a Senior Legal Consultant. At the trial the Plaintiff shall rely on the acknowledgment of receipt of the said Petition by the Nigeria Police Force vide letter dated 28th July, 2008.

24.                While the matter was being investigated and in a desperate bid to divert attention Messrs Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba, and others  through Bernard Afu, Esq. (1st Defendant) filed a “Direct Criminal Complaint contrary to Section 391, 392, 393 (1) and 394 of the Penal Code” before a Chief Magistrate’s Court, Wuse, Abuja, on the 2nd December, 2008, against Okoi Obono-Obla; Ringardas Nigeria Limited; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission seeking for Criminal Summons to be issued against Okoi Obono-Obla.

25.                The Plaintiff avers that the Chief Magistrate based on the purported “Direct Criminal Complaint” filed by the said Bernard Afu (1st Defendant) was misled to issue a ‘warrant for the arrest of the Plaintiff’ for allegedly writing to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission.

26.                When the Plaintiff became aware of the purported “Direct Criminal Complaint” the Plaintiff promptly filed a Motion before the Chief Magistrate’s Court seeking for an order  staying execution of Order of Bench Warrant pending the hearing of the Motion and Appeal filed against the said Order of Bench Warrant on the 4th February, 2009.

27.                The Plaintiff also petitioned the Chief Magistrate to the Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for improper exercise of discretion in issuing a “Bench Warrant” against the Plaintiff based on the purported ‘Direct Criminal Complaint’ which has no foundation in law whatsoever.  Eventually the purported ‘Bench Warrant’ and ‘Direct Criminal Complaint’ was struck out by the Chief Magistrate.

28.                The Plaintiff avers that the so-called “Direct Criminal Complaint” was a desperate ploy or antic to outwit Law Enforcement Agents and truncate investigation of the crime reported by the Plaintiff on the instruction of Ringardas Nigeria Limited against Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba and his cohorts.

29.                The 1st Defendant still acting on behalf of Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba and cohorts filed a Motion Ex Parte in the Chief Magistrate Court seeking for an order of “injunction restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other related Offences Commission (ICPC) or their agents or otherwise howsoever called from arresting, inviting, intimidating, detaining and molesting the Applicants pending the determination of the substantive Motion on Notice.”

30.                 The Plaintiff avers that 1st Defendant maliciously and in extreme bad faith without an order of Court whatsoever rushed to the Daily Trust Newspaper and paid for the ‘Bench Warrant’ against the Plaintiff to be advertised and published in a bid to impugn the Plaintiff’s credit and character and portray him as a criminal suspect.

31.                The Plaintiff avers that the ‘Bench Warrant’ was published by the 1st Defendant in the Sunday Trust Newspaper of February 8, 2009, Page 6, without leave of the Chief Magistrate, who purportedly issued same, in a bid by the 1st Defendant to use the media to scandalise the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff then instructed his solicitors to write to the Editor of Sunday Trust Newspaper on the 17th February, 2009.

32.                When Media Trust Nigeria Limited, publishers of Sunday Trust Newspaper, were unable to meet the demands contained in Plaintiff’s Solicitors letter dated the 17th February, 2009, the Plaintiff filed an action in the High Court claiming damages against Media Trust Nigeria Limited for defamation of character.

33.                Eventually the matter was settled out of Court. However Media Trust Nigeria limited disclosed to the Solicitors to the Plaintiff that Bernard Afu (1st Defendant) brought and paid for the advert of the publication of the purported ‘bench warrant’ to them. The said Media Trust Limited profusely apologised to the Plaintiff.

34.                The Plaintiff avers that he has never been investigated by the Nigeria Police Force or any other security agency for the alleged commission of any crime including criminal defamation against Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba or any other person. The Plaintiff was never charged before an Abuja Magistrate Court for criminal defamation as falsely and maliciously portrayed in This Day Newspaper dated the 11th November, 2012 and its online edition of 16th November, 2012.

35.                  The suggestion in the said offensive publication that Messrs Ringardas Nigeria Limited did not instruct the Plaintiff to write the said Petition is false.

36.                The Plaintiff avers that on the 1st April, 2009, & 29th November, 2010, respectively, the Plaintiff was instructed again by Ringardas Nigeria Limited to write a petition against Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba and cohorts to the Nigeria Police Force, Independent Corrupt and other Related Offences Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission complaining about the theft of 25,000 each Metric Tonnes of LPFO belonging to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria at Ogorode, Sapele, Delta State of Nigeria. 

37.                The Plaintiff avers that it is also not true that the case against Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba and cohorts as investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and the Nigeria Police Force respectively was found to be false as portrayed by the publication of the 11th November, 2012, and its online edition of 16th November, 2012.

38.                The Plaintiff avers that it is against his right of fair hearing for the 3rd Defendant to publish the story written and sold to it by the 1st & 2nd Defendants without seeking for a clarification from the Plaintiff.

39.                The Plaintiff avers that it amounts to recklessness and yellow journalism unbecoming of a serious and reputable media such as the 3rd and 4th Defendants to publish the content of the letter of 1st Defendant stock and barrel, when publishing same will impugn the character and integrity of the Plaintiff, without affording the Plaintiff an opportunity to state his own side of the issue in controversy in the publication in order to give a balanced report to the publication.

40.                At the trial, the Plaintiff shall contend that the 1st Defendant has so much hatred, malice and dislike for the Plaintiff, for no justifiable reason, and is set on a smear campaign against the Plaintiff using the media and so the 3rd and 4th Defendants ought to have carried out a verification of the publication by hearing from the Plaintiff on the facts in the publication to establish the veracity or accuracy of what the 1st Defendant wrote in his letter before publishing same.

41.                The Plaintiff avers that the letter written by the 1st Defendant via his Firm (the 2nd Defendant) and published by the 3rd and 4th Defendants was in bad faith because the Plaintiff was not mentioned in the publication or report of the 3rd Defendant of 23rd October, 2012, which the 1st Defendant laboured desperately to refute by using the Plaintiff as a scapegoat to exonerate his Clients.

42.                The Plaintiff avers that publication of the 3rd & 4th Defendants of 11th November, 2012, and its online edition of 16th November, 2012, concerning the person of the Plaintiff has seriously damaged the Plaintiff’s credit, character and reputation.

43.                The said publications have exposed the Plaintiff to public odium, ridicule and scandal. The Plaintiff has been inundated with phone calls by his associates, colleagues, Clients, subjects and friends both from Nigeria and abroad who are distressed by the publications.

44.                The said defamatory publication has seriously maligned and damaged the character and credit of the Plaintiff who is a well known Legal Practitioner, Human Rights Activist, Traditional Ruler, Blogger and a Public Commentator/Analyst.

45.                The Plaintiff avers that the ordinary meaning and construction of the words used in the defamatory publication which is averred to above is as follows:

(i)          That the Plaintiff is a common criminal and an unscrupulous person;

(ii)         That the Plaintiff is a habitual criminal and reprobate;

(iii)        That the Plaintiff is a scoundrel who does not deserve to be a Legal Practitioner;

(iv)       That the Plaintiff is a devious, shifty and dodgy character and a hawk writer who writes defamatory petitions against people without instructions.

(v)        That the Plaintiff is a purveyor of lies and one who inseminates false information and news to undeserving members of the public.

46.                The Plaintiff avers that on or about the 16th November, 2012, the Plaintiff’s Solicitors: Messer Obono, Obono and Associates, wrote to the 3rd & 4th Defendants enjoining them to retract the offensive publications and apologise to the Plaintiff.

47.                The 3rd and 4th Defendant’s on its online Edition of 22nd November, 2012, and its Newspaper of same date published a story titled ‘OBONO-OBLA’S ARRAIGNMENT DEBUNKED’ wherein the 3rd and 4th Defendants made an attempt at stating the Plaintiff’s side of the story, which was what the 3rd and 4th Defendants ought to have done before publishing the offending and defamatory article of 11th November, 2012, and its online edition of 16th November, 2012, in an effort to satisfy the conditions stipulated in the Plaintiff’s Solicitors letter of 16th November, 2012, to the 3rd and 4th Defendants to retract the said publication and apologize to the Plaintiff. 

48.                The 3rd and 4th Defendants have still not apologized to the Plaintiff for their publication of 11th November, 2012, and the online Edition of 16th November, 2012, without verifying the Plaintiff’s own side of the story.

49.                The Plaintiff avers that the online edition of This Day Newspaper of the said defamatory publication was the edition the Plaintiff accessed on the morning of 16th November, 2012, while browsing the internet with his blackberry phone when he found the offensive story to his chagrin and consternation.

50.                The Plaintiff avers that when he read the story on the online edition of This Day Newspaper, he had to look for the hard copy of the 11th November, 2012, Edition of This Day Newspaper. The Plaintiff avers that millions of people read the online edition of This Day Newspaper.

51.                The Plaintiff avers that the Internet is an Information Super Highway; a computer-based global information System.

52.                The Internet is composed of many interconnected computer networks. Each network may link tens, hundreds, or even thousands of computers, enabling them to share information and processing power. The Internet has made it possible for people all over the world to communicate with one another effectively and inexpensively.

53.                The Plaintiff avers that the Internet does not have a centralized distribution system. Instead, an individual who has Internet access can communicate directly with anyone else on the Internet, post information for general consumption, retrieve information, use distant applications and services, or buy and sell products.

54.                The said publication has damaged the credit and character of the Plaintiff.

55.                The Plaintiff has received numerous calls from his professional colleagues, friends and associates both in Nigeria and abroad who continually express reservations and concerns over the said publication which they agree are contemptuous of the Plaintiff.

56.                The 1st Defendant using the instrumentality of the 2nd Defendant was on vengeful mission to settle scores with the Plaintiff for writing a Petition on behalf of his client, Messrs Ringardas Nigeria Ltd, to the EFCC, ICPC and the Nigerian Police Force against Makoju, Ndoma-Egba and cohorts, Clients of the 1st and 2nd Defendants.

57.                The 1st and 2nd Defendants knew or ought to have known that the Petition the Plaintiff wrote the Law Enforcement Agencies such as the Nigerian Police Force, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) on behalf of his Clients Ringardas Nigeria Limited is privileged as it was directed to authorities in charge of carrying out investigations of Petitions/complaints made to it and cannot be the basis for an action of ‘Direct Criminal Defamation’ filed by the 1st and 2nd Defendants at the Chief Magistrate Court, Wuse Zone 2, Abuja.

58.                The 1st and 2nd Defendant had no justification to file the ‘Direct Criminal Defamation’ at the said Chief Magistrate Court, Wuse Zone 2, there being no investigation and finding by the Law Enforcement Agencies to which the Plaintiff sent his Petition on behalf of his client to that the information in the Petition was found to be false or untrue.

59.                At the trial, the Plaintiff shall contend that the 1st and 2nd Defendants were out on a deliberate campaign of calumny against the Plaintiff using the media (first the Daily Trust and now the 3rd and 4th Defendants) to cause the Plaintiff some embarrassment in a bid to tarnish the credit and character of the Plaintiff before the public.

60.                At the trial, the Plaintiff shall contend that 3rd and 4th Defendant knew or ought to have known that in accordance with the ethics and conduct of the profession of journalism, a verification of the letter of 1st and 2nd Defendants ought to have been carried out before publishing same stock and barrel.

61.                Whereof the Plaintiff claims against the Defendants as follows:

i.             The sum of N500 Million (Five Hundred Million Naira) as General/Aggravated Damages for defamation which the Defendants falsely and maliciously published in the This Day Newspaper Edition of 11th November, 2012, and the Online Edition of This Day Newspaper of 16th November, 2012, respectively concerning the Plaintiff in a story titled “MAKOJU, NDOMA-EGBA NOT INVOLVED IN LPFO SCAM” the following words thus:

“Erstwhile Managing Director of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Engr.  Joseph Oyeyani Makoju and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Knut Ndoma-Egba have refuted allegations by Messrs Ringardas Nig. Ltd  that both of them in collusion with others allegedly stole 25,000 metric tonnes of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) from a storage tank in Sapele in 2006. Recall that This day had on October, 23, 2012 published a story in which Ringardas said it petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over the alleged fraud. Their Solicitors, Bernard E. Afu and Associates (Fountain Chambers) Legal Practitioners and Consultants in a letter to THISDAY dated 08 November, 2012, stated that the allegation against their clients is ‘false, wicked and libellous’. According to the letter signed by the Head of Chambers, Bernard Afu Esq, ‘...the EFCC and ICPC investigated this same publication and established its falsehood in 2008’. The purported petition indicated that Makoju, Ndoma-Egba and others had pilfered Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO), with market value of over N200 million from a storage tank at Sapele leased to Ringardas. Ringardas, stated Makoju’s solicitors, had long before now extricated itself from any connection to the petition. ‘Similarly, on the 13th August, 2008 MESSRS RINGARDAS NIGERIA LIMITED, in a letter to the Chairman of EFCC, categorically denied publication of any such publication or petition’ Fountain Chamber’s wrote. The Law firm also added that: ‘in the same vein, the writer of the petition i.e. Barrister Okoi Obono-Obla was charged before an Abuja Magistrate Court with the offence of criminal defamation contrary to section 391 and 392 of the penal code and an arrest warrant issued against him on the 4th February, 2009.”

ii.            An Order of this Honourable Court directing the 3rd and 4th Defendants to  retract the said publication and cause it to be removed from the Internet within 48 hours of the delivery of Judgment in this case.

iii.          An Order of Perpetual Injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd Defendants from causing to be published through the 3rd and 4th Defendants or any other medium at all further defamation against the Plaintiff.

iv.          An Order of Perpetual Injunction restraining the 3rd and 4th Defendants from publishing any further defamation against the Plaintiff.  

v.           The Costs of this proceeding which is accessed at N200, 000.00 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira) only.

DATED THIS 16TH DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2012. 

J. O. OBONO-OBLA (MRS.)

I. P. CHUKWUEMELIE (MISS)

C. C. UDEANYINYA ESQ.

OBONO, OBONO & ASSOCIATES

(PLAINTIFF’S SOLICITORS)

TRINITY HOUSE, SECOND FLOOR,

MABUSHI, ABUJA, FCT, NIGERIA.

08033303287;

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ADDRESSES FOR SERVICE:

1.  ON THE 1ST AND 2ND DEFENDANTS

C/O Bernard Afu, Esquire

        Bernard E. Afu & Associates

(Fountain Chambers)

        Suite C45/46, DANZIYAL PLAZA

        CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT

        FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY,

ABUJA, NIGERIA.

2.  ON THE 3RD AND 4TH DEFENDANTS

The Editor, This Day Newspaper,

        Leaders & Company Limited

        Plot 1, Sector Centre B,

        Jabi Business District

        Solomon Lar Way, Jabi North East,

        Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria. 

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERITORY NIGERIA

IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION

HOLDEN AT ABUJA

SUIT NO. FCT/HC/CV/      /2012

BETWEEN:

BARRISTER OKOI OBONO-OBLA   -               PLAINTIFF

AND

1.   BERNARD AFU, ESQUIRE

2.   BERNARD E. AFU & ASSOCIATES

(FOUNTAIN CHAMBERS)

3.   LEADERS & COMPANY                         DEFENDANTS

(PUBLISHERS OF THIS DAY

NEWSPAPER)

4.   MUHAMMED BELLO

STATEMENT ON OATH OF BARR. OKOI OBONO-OBLA

I, Okoi Obono-Obla, Male, Legal Practitioner and a Nigerian of Plot 1132 Festus Okotie Ebo, Utako District, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria do hereby make Oath and state as follows:

1.   That I am the Plaintiff in this case and as such the facts of this case are well known to me. I am a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. I have practiced Law for more than twenty years.

2.   That I am a well known Human Rights Activist, Essayist and Anti-Corruption Advocate Social and Civil Society Activist in Nigeria and abroad. 

3.   That I am a recipient of the International Visitors Leadership Programme of the Government of the United States of America in 1997 in recognition for his social advocacy works in Nigeria.

4.   That I am also a recipient of the Distinguished Visitor Award of the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, College of Law, and University of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America in 1997 in recognition of my work for the promotion of the values of accountability, transparency, Human Rights and Rule of Law in Nigeria. I am a Fellow of Law 457 of the prestigious Salzburg Global Seminars (2008).

5.   That I was a Member of the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, 2004-2006.

6.   That I was a former Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Bar Association, Calabar Branch, 1994-1998.

7.   That I was a Governorship Candidate of the National Conscience Party in Cross River State, 2003 in the General Election.

8.   That I was a former National Legal Adviser of Congress for Progressive Change, a registered Political Party in the Federal Republic of Nigeria since December, 2009, till December, 2010.

9.   That presently I am the National Deputy Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change.

10.                That I was a former Board Member of the National Park Service of Nigeria, 2005-2007.

11.                That I was a former member of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Management of African Petroleum Plc constituted by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to probe the affairs of African Petroleum Plc in 2002.

12.                That I am an Honorary Chieftaincy Holder of Obol Kobil of Ijiman, Ugep, 2006.

13.                That I am a Holder of Honorary Chieftaincy of Obol Bongbongkayodor of Ajere Community in Ekori, Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State, 1998.

14.                That I am  a Traditional Ruler in my capacity as Obol Kepon of Letamkpankom, Ijiman Ward, Ugep, Yakurr Local Government of Cross River State of Nigeria.

15.                That I am the Principal Partner in the Law Firm of Obono, Obono & Associates, Legal Practitioners & Consultants based in Abuja, Nigeria.

16.                That the 1st Defendant is the owner of the firm known as Bernard E. Afu & Associates, Legal Practitioners & Consultants (aka Fountain Chambers), 2nd Defendant, based in Abuja.

17.                That the 3rd Defendant is a limited liability company incorporated under the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the printer and publisher of the This Day Newspapers.

18.                That the 3rd Defendant publishes two editions of this Day Newspapers for Northern and Southern Nigeria.

19.                That the Northern Edition of This Day Newspaper is printed and published in at This Day Newspaper, Leaders & Company Limited, Plot 1, Sector Centre B, Jabi Business District, Solomon Lar Way, Jabi North East, Abuja, Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court.

20.                That the 4th Plaintiff is a Reporter or Writer or Staff or agent of This Day Newspaper, Leaders & Company Limited, Plot 1, Sector Centre B, Jabi Business District, Solomon Lar Way, Jabi North East, Abuja, Nigeria.

21.                That I know as a fact that on or about the 11th November, 2012 & 16th November, 2012, respectively, the Defendants in collusion published  a story or news titled “MAKOJU, NDOMA-EGBA NOT INVOLVED IN  LPFO SCAM” in the This Day Newspaper and This Day Online respectively concerning me the following defamation thus: the following words thus:

“Erstwhile Managing Director of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Engr.  Joseph Oyeyani Makoju and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Knut Ndoma-Egba have refuted allegations by Messrs Ringardas Nig. Ltd  that both of them in collusion with others allegedly stole 25,000 metric tonnes of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) from a storage tank in Sapele in 2006. Recall that This day had on October, 23, 2012 published a story in which Ringardas said it petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over the alleged fraud. Their Solicitors, Bernard E. Afu and Associates (Fountain Chambers) Legal Practitioners and Consultants in a letter to THISDAY dated 08 November, 2012, stated that the allegation against their clients is ‘false, wicked and libellous’. According to the letter signed by the Head of Chambers, Bernard Afu Esq, ‘...the EFCC and ICPC investigated this same publication and established its falsehood in 2008’. The purported petition indicated that Makoju, Ndoma-Egba and others had pilfered Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO), with market value of over N200 million from a storage tank at Sapele leased to Ringardas. Ringardas, stated Makoju’s solicitors, had long before now extricated itself from any connection to the petition. ‘Similarly, on the 13th August, 2008 MESSRS RINGARDAS NIGERIA LIMITED, in a letter to the Chairman of EFCC, categorically denied publication of any such publication or petition’ Fountain Chamber’s wrote. The Law firm also added that: ‘in the same vein, the writer of the petition i.e. Barrister Okoi Obono-Obla was charged before an Abuja Magistrate Court with the offence of criminal defamation contrary to section 391 and 392 of the penal code and an arrest warrant issued against him on the 4th February, 2009.”

22.                That I know as a fact that there is no iota of truth in the said publication against me.

23.                That as a matter of fact there was no time I was charged before an Abuja Magistrate’s Court with the offence of criminal defamation contrary to Section 391 and 392 of the Penal Code in 2008 or in any other day contrary to the false and malicious publication shown above.

24.                That I know as a fact that I was instructed by Messrs Ringardas Nigeria Limited on or about the 17th July, 2008, & 10th November, 2010, respectively to write to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and the Nigeria Police Force a Petition concerning the theft of 25,000 Metric Tonnes each of LPFO at PHCN Tank Farm concerning Joseph Makoju, William Tuku Ogon and Knut Ndoma-Egba at Sapele Power Business Unit Ogorode, Sapele, Delta State, Nigeria. I shall rely on the said Petitions dated 17/7/2008 and 29/11/2012 respectively.

25.                That I know as a fact that I was instructed at my then Office at Drive 6 House 8, Ministers Quarters, Mabushi, Abuja, on or about the 15th July, 2008, by Nick Simpson a Belgian National who was working with Ringardas Nigeria Limited as a Senior Legal Consultant. At the trial I shall rely on the acknowledgment of receipt of the said Petition by the Nigeria Police Force vide letter dated 28th July, 2008.

26.                That while the matter was being investigated and in a desperate bid to divert attention, Messrs Joseph Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba, and William Tuku Ogon through the 1st Defendant filed a “Direct Criminal Complaint contrary to Section 391, 392, 393 (1) and 394 of the Penal Code before a Chief Magistrate’s Court, Wuse, Abuja, on the 2nd December, 2008, against Okoi Obono-Obla; Ringardas Nigeria Limited; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission seeking for Criminal Summons to be issued against Okoi Obono-Obla. I shall rely on the said Direct Criminal Complaint at the trial.

27.                That I know as a fact that the Chief Magistrate based on the purported “Direct Criminal Complaint” filed by the 2nd Defendant was misled to issue a warrant for the arrest of our Client for allegedly writing to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission.

28.                That when I became aware of the purported “Direct Criminal Complaint” I promptly instructed my Solicitors to file a Motion before the Chief Magistrate’s Court seeking an order staying execution of the order of Bench Warrant pending the hearing of the Motion and Appeal filed against the said Order of Bench Warrant on the 4th February, 2009.

29.                That I petitioned the Chief Magistrate to the Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for improper exercise of discretion in issuing a bench warrant against our Client based on the purported ‘Direct Criminal Complaint’ which has no foundation in law whatsoever. 

30.                That I know as a fact that the purported Bench Warrant and Direct Criminal Complaint was struck out by the Chief Magistrate.

31.                That I know as a fact that the so-called “Direct Criminal Complaint” was a desperate ploy or antic to outwit Law Enforcement Agents and truncate investigation of the crime reported by me on the instruction of my Client, Ringardas Nigeria Limited, against Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba and his cohorts. The 1st Defendant still acting on behalf of Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba and cohorts filed a Motion Ex Parte in the Chief Magistrate’ Court seeking for an order of “injunction restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other related Offences Commission (ICPC) or their agents or otherwise howsoever called from arresting, inviting, intimidating, detaining and molesting the Applicants pending the determination of the substantive Motion on Notice.

32.                That I know as a fact that  1st Defendant maliciously and in extreme bad faith without an order of Court rushed to the Daily Trust Newspaper and paid for the bench warrant against me to be advertised and published in a bid to embarrass me, impugn my credit and character and portrayed me as a criminal suspect.

33.                That I know that the said purported Bench Warrant which was obtained ex parte was published by the 1st Defendant in the Sunday Trust Newspaper of February 8, 2009, Page 6, without leave of the Chief Magistrate who purportedly issued the said warrant, in a bid or at the instance of the 1st Defendant to use the media to scandalise me.

34.                I then instructed my Solicitors who wrote to the Editor of Sunday Trust Newspaper on the 17th February, 2009.

35.                That when Media Trust Nigeria Limited, publishers of Sunday Trust Newspaper were unable to meet the demands contained  in my Solicitors letter dated the 17th February, 2009, I filed an action in the High Court claiming damages against Media Trust Nigeria Limited for defamation of character.

36.                That eventually the matter was settled out of Court as the Media Trust Nigeria Limited rendered an apology to me.

37.                That during the proceeding in Court Media Trust Nigeria Limited disclosed to my Solicitors that Bernard Afu (1st Defendant) brought and paid for the advert of the publication of the purported ‘Bench Warrant’ to them. 

38.                 That I state boldly and categorically that I have never been investigated by the Nigeria Police Force or any other security agency for the alleged commission of criminal defamation against Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba or any other person.

39.                That I state boldly and categorically that I was never charged before an Abuja Magistrate Court for criminal defamation as falsely and maliciously portrayed in This Day Newspaper dated the 11th November, 2012, and its online edition of 16th November, 2012.

40.                That I know as a fact that the suggestion in the said offensive publication that Messrs Ringardas Nigeria Limited did not instruct me to write the said Petitions against Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba and cohorts is false.  

41.                That I verily believe an action cannot lie in criminal defamation against me based on a petition I wrote in my capacity as a Sloicitor to my clients, Messrs Ringardas Nigeria limited and upon whose instructions I wrote to Law Enforcement Agencies such as ‘the EFCC, ICPC and the Nigeria Police Force’ reporting the commission of criminal offences by the said Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba and cohorts against the Federal Government of Nigeria.

42.                That I know as a fact that on the 1st April, 2009, & 29th November, 2010, respectively, I was instructed by Ringardas Nigeria Limited to petition Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba and cohorts to the Nigeria Police Force, Independent Corrupt and other Related Offences Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission complaining about the theft of 25,000 each Metric Tonnes of LPFO belonging to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria at Ogorode, Sapele, Delta State of Nigeria. 

43.                That I know as a fact that it is not true that the case against Majoku, Knut Ndoma-Egba and cohorts was investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and the Nigeria Police Force respectively and found to be false as portrayed by the publication of the 11th November, 2012, and its online edition of 16th November, 2012.

44.                That I know as a fact that it is against my right of fair hearing for the 3rd Defendant to publish that the story written and sold to it by the 1st & 2nd Defendants without seeking for a clarification from me over matters capable of impugning my integrity and character to the public.

45.                That I know as a fact that it is recklessness and yellow journalism unbecoming of a serious and reputable media such as the 3rd and 4th Defendants to publish the content of the letter of 1st Defendant stock and barrel (who has so much hatred, malice and dislike for me) without carrying a verification to establish the veracity or accuracy of what the 1st using the instrumentality of his Chambers, the 2nd Defendants, wrote in his letter.

46.                That I know as a fact that the letter written by the 1st Defendant published by the 3rd & 4th Defendants was in bad faith because I was not mentioned in the publication or report of the 3rd Defendant of 11th November, 2012, which the 1st Defendant laboured desperately to refute by using me as a scapegoat to exonerate his Clients.

47.                That I know as a fact that the publication of the 3rd & 4th Defendants of 11th November, 2012, and its online edition concerning my person has seriously damaged my credit, character and reputation.

48.                That I know as a fact that the publications have exposed me to public odium, ridicule and scandal. I have been in inundated with an avalanche of phone calls by my associates, colleagues, clients, subjects and friends both from Nigeria and abroad who are distressed by the publications.

49.                That the said defamatory publications have seriously maligned and damaged my character, credit and reputation as a well is known Legal Practitioner, Human Rights Activist, Traditional Ruler, Blogger and a Public Commentator/Analyst.

50.                That I know as a fact that the ordinary meaning and construction of the words used in the defamatory publication which is averred to above is as follows:

(i)                  That I am a common criminal and an unscrupulous person;

(ii)                 That I am a habitual criminal and reprobate;

(iii)                That I am a scoundrel who does not deserve to be a Legal Practitioner;

(iv)               That I am a devious, shifty and dodgy character; a hawk writer who writes defamatory petitions against people.

(v)                That I am a purveyor of lies and one who inseminates false information and news to undeserving members of the public.

(vi)               That I am an unscrupulous lawyer who writes petitions against innocent people without instructions from his clients.

62.                That I know as a fact that on or about the 16th November, 2012, I instructed my Solicitors, Messer Obono, Obono and Associates to write to the 3rd & 4th Defendants enjoining the Defendants to retract their publications and apologise to me but the 3rd & 4th Defendants have adamantly refused to do so.

63.                That I know as a fact the 3rd and 4th Defendant’s on its online Edition of 22nd November, 2012, and its Newspaper of same date published a story titled ‘OBONO-OBLA’S ARRAIGNMENT DEBUNKED’ wherein the 3rd and 4th Defendants did what they ought to have done (hearing from the Plaintiff) before publishing the offending and defamatory article of 11th November, 2012, in its online edition of same date, as an attempt to satisfy the conditions stipulated in my Solicitors letter of 16th November, 2012, to the 3rd and 4th Defendants to retract the said publication and apologize to me. 

64.                That the 3rd and 4th Defendants have not apologized to me either in their Online Edition of 22nd November, 2012, or the Newspaper Edition of same date, having caused me distress by not verifying their story before publishing.

65.                That I know as a fact that the online edition of This Day Newspaper of the said defamatory publication was the edition I accessed on the morning of 16th November, 2012, while browsing the internet with my blackberry phone where I rudely found the offensive story to my chagrin and consternation

66.                That when I read the story on the online edition of this Day Newspaper I had to look for the hard copy of the 11th November 2012 edition of This Day Newspaper. That millions of people read the online edition of the This Day Newspaper.

67.                That I know as a fact that that the Internet is Information Super Highway; a computer-based global information system.

68.                That I know as a fact that the Internet is composed of many interconnected computer networks. Each network may link tens, hundreds, or even thousands of computers, enabling them to share information and processing power. The Internet has made it possible for people all over the world to communicate with one another effectively and inexpensively.

69.                That I know as a fact that the Internet does not have a centralized distribution system. Instead, an individual who has Internet access can communicate directly with anyone else on the Internet, post information for general consumption, retrieve information, use distant applications and services, or buy and sell products.

70.                That I know as a fact that the said publication has damaged my credit and character.

71.                That I have received numerous calls from my professional colleagues, friends and associates both in Nigeria and abroad who continually express reservations and concerns about my said publication which they agreed are contemptuous and defamatory of me.

72.                That I know as a fact that the 1st Defendant was on a vengeful mission to settle scores with me for whatever reason best known to him, using the 3rd & 4th Defendants as a cover.

73.                That 1st Defendant used the instrumentality of the 2nd Defendant to settle scores with me for writing a Petition on behalf of my client, Messrs Ringardas Nigeria Ltd, to the EFCC, ICPC and the Nigerian Police Force against Makoju, Ndoma-Egba and cohorts, Clients of the 1st and 2nd Defendants.

74.                That the 1st and 2nd Defendants knew or ought to have known that the Petition I wrote the Law Enforcement Agencies such as the Nigerian Police Force, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) on behalf of my Clients: Ringardas Nigeria Limited is privileged as it was directed to authorities in charge of receiving and investigating such Petitions/complaints and cannot be the basis for an action of ‘Direct Criminal Defamation’ filed by the 1st and 2nd Defendants at the Chief Magistrate Court, Wuse Zone 2, Abuja against me.

75.                That the 1st and 2nd Defendant do not have any justification to file a ‘Direct Criminal Defamation’ at the said Chief Magistrate Court, Wuse Zone 2, against me there being no finding by the Law Enforcement Agencies to which I sent the Petition on behalf of my client that the information in the Petition was investigated and found to be false or untrue.

76.                That the 1st and 2nd Defendants were out on a deliberate campaign of calumny against me using the media (first the Daily Trust and now the 3rd and 4th Defendants) to cause me some embarrassment in a bid to tarnish my credit and character in the eyes of the public.

77.                That 3rd and 4th Defendants knew or ought to have known that in accordance with the ethics and conduct of the profession of journalism, a verification of the letter of 1st and 2nd Defendants ought to have been carried out before publishing same stock and barrel.

78.                That I make this Oath in good faith conscientiously believing the facts contained herein to be true and correct in accordance with the Oaths Act, 2004.

------------------------

                                                                      DEPONENT

Sworn to at the Registry of the

High Court of the Federal Capital Territory,

Abuja, this ..... Day of November, 2012.

BEFORE ME

COMMISSIONER FOR OATHS

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERITORY NIGERIA

IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION

HOLDEN AT ABUJA

SUIT NO. FCT/HC/CV/      /2012 

BETWEEN:

BARRISTER OKOI OBONO-OBLA   -               PLAINTIFF

AND

1.   BERNARD AFU, ESQUIRE

2.   BERNARD E. AFU & ASSOCIATES

(FOUNTAIN CHAMBERS)

3.   LEADERS & COMPANY                         DEFENDANTS

(PUBLISHERS OF THIS DAY

NEWSPAPER)

4.   MUHAMMED BELLO

STATEMENT ON OATH OF BARRISTER EFA OTU OKA

I, Efa Otu Oka, Male, Legal Practitioner and a Nigerian of Plot 519, Federal Housing Estate Phase Two, Karu, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria do hereby make Oath and state as follows:

1.   That I know the Plaintiff in this case. I know him as a Lawyer, Traditional Ruler, Human Rights Activist, Anti-Corruption Crusader, Blogger, Public Commentator and Analyst.

2.   That I read This Day Newspaper of 11th November, 2012, published by the 3rd Defendant. I read the story written by the 4th Defendant concerning the Plaintiff. The story was captioned “MAKOJU, NDOMA-EGBA NOT INVOLVED IN LPFO SCAM” and read thus:

“Erstwhile Managing Director of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Engr.  Joseph Oyeyani Makoju and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Knut Ndoma-Egba have refuted allegations by Messrs Ringardas Nig. Ltd  that both of them in collusion with others allegedly stole 25,000 metric tonnes of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) from a storage tank in Sapele in 2006. Recall that This day had on October, 23, 2012 published a story in which Ringardas said it petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over the alleged fraud. Their Solicitors, Bernard E. Afu and Associates (Fountain Chambers) Legal Practitioners and Consultants in a letter to THISDAY dated 08 November, 2012, stated that the allegation against their clients is ‘false, wicked and libellous’. According to the letter signed by the Head of Chambers, Bernard Afu Esq, ‘...the EFCC and ICPC investigated this same publication and established its falsehood in 2008’. The purported petition indicated that Makoju, Ndoma-Egba and others had pilfered Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO), with market value of over N200 million from a storage tank at Sapele leased to Ringardas. Ringardas, stated Makoju’s solicitors, had long before now extricated itself from any connection to the petition. ‘Similarly, on the 13th August, 2008 MESSRS RINGARDAS NIGERIA LIMITED, in a letter to the Chairman of EFCC, categorically denied publication of any such publication or petition’ Fountain Chamber’s wrote. The Law firm also added that: ‘in the same vein, the writer of the petition i.e. Barrister Okoi Obono-Obla was charged before an Abuja Magistrate Court with the offence of criminal defamation contrary to section 391 and 392 of the penal code and an arrest warrant issued against him on the 4th February, 2009.”

3.   That I also read on the internet the online edition of This Day Newspaper of the 16th November, 2012, the same story highlighted above.

4.   That the story was written by the 4th Defendant at the instance of the 1st and 2nd Defendants.

5.   That I know as a fact that in the publications the Plaintiff was portrayed in very bad light.

6.   That the publications depicted the Plaintiff as a lawless fellow and an unscrupulous lawyer. The Plaintiff was portrayed and depicted as a devious lawyer who is reputed for writing petitions against innocent people to Law Enforcement Agencies without receiving instructions from his clients.

7.   That the publications depicted the Plaintiff as a criminal who was charged to Court on the 4th February, 2009, for criminal defamation and warrant of arrested issued against him for arrest for committing the offence of criminal defamation.

8.   That after I read the story I felt very bad and my estimation of the Plaintiff was considerably lowered. I called the Plaintiff and demanded an explanation from him. The Plaintiff explained that he was never arrested by the Police or any other Law Enforcement Agency or charged before an Abuja Magistrate’s Court on the 4th February, 2009, or on any other day for criminal defamation as alleged in the story and that the said publication was actuated by malice and grudges nursed by the 1st and 2nd Defendants against the Plaintiff.

9.   That this Statement is made in good faith conscientiously believing the facts contained herein to be true and correct in accordance with the Oaths Act, 2004.

------------------------

                                                                          DEPONENT

Sworn to at the Registry of the High Court

of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, this

........ Day of November, 2012.

 

BEFORE ME

COMMISSIONER FOR OATHS 

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERITORY NIGERIA

IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION

HOLDEN AT ABUJA

SUIT NO. FCT/HC/CV/      /2012

BETWEEN:

BARRISTER OKOI OBONO-OBLA   -               PLAINTIFF

AND

1.   BERNARD AFU, ESQUIRE

2.   BERNARD E. AFU & ASSOCIATES

(FOUNTAIN CHAMBERS)

3.   LEADERS & COMPANY                         DEFENDANTS

(PUBLISHERS OF THIS DAY

NEWSPAPER)

4.   MUHAMMED BELLO

 

       LIST OF DOCUMENTS PLEADED BY THE PLAINTIFF

1.   THIS DAY NEWSPAPER OF 23/10/2012

2.   THIS DAY NEWSPAPER OF 11/11/2012

3.   THIS DAY NEWSPAPER OF 22/11/2012

4.   LETTER TO ICPC DATED 29TH NOVEMBER, 2010 TO THE CHAIRMAN OF ICPC AND ACCOMPANYING DOCUMENTS

5.   LETTER TO ICPC DATED 17TH JULY, 2008

6.   SUNDAY TRUST NEWSPAPER OF 9TH FEBRUARY, 2009

7.   MOTION EX PARTE FILED IN THE MAGISTRATE COURT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY IN WILLIAM OGON & THREE OTHERS VS. OKOI OBONO-OBLA & THREE OTHERS  ON THE 2/12/2008 BY BERNARD AFU & ASSOCIATES

8.   MOTION ON NOTICE FILED BY OKOI OBONO-OBLA IN CR/12/2009  ON THE 4/9/2009

9.   PETITION DATED 1/4/2009 TO EFCC

10.                MOTION ON NOTICE FILED BY OKOI OBONO-OBLA IN CRA/004/09 ON THE 4/2/2009

11.                LETTER OF THE NIGERIA POLICE FORCE DATED 28/7/2008  WITH REFERENCE NUMBER CB:7000/IGP.SEC/ANJ/VOL. 254/488 TITLED” RE: PETITION FOR THE INVESTIGATION OF A CASE OF CRIMINAL BRACH OF TRUST, CONTRACT SCAM, CONSPIRACY, STEALING AND ABUSE OF OFFICE AGAINST SEANTOR LIYEL IMOKE, ENGR. JOSEPH MAKOJU, KNUT NDOMA-EGBA, WILLLIAM TUKU OGON, EJA IGWE

12.                PETITION OF OBONO, OBONO AND ASOCIATES TO CHAIRMAN OF ICPC, HONOURABLE JUSTICE EMMANUEL AYOOLA (RTD)

13.                PLAINTIFF’S SOLICITORS LETTER TO THE 2ND DEFENDANT

 

LIST OF WITNESSES

1.   OKOI OBONO-OBLA

2.   BARRISTER EFA OTU OKA

 

DATED THIS 16TH DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2012.

J. O. OBONO-OBLA (MRS.)

I. P. CHUKWUEMELIE (MISS)

C. C. UDEANYINYA ESQ.

OBONO, OBONO & ASSOCIATES

(PLAINTIFF’S SOLICITORS)

TRINITY HOUSE, SECOND FLOOR,

MABUSHI, ABUJA, FCT, NIGERIA.

08033303287;

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

ADDRESSES FOR SERVICE:

1.  ON THE 1ST AND 2ND DEFENDANTS

C/O Bernard Afu, Esquire

        Bernard E. Afu & Associates

(Fountain Chambers)

        Suite C45/46, DANZIYAL PLAZA

        CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT

        FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY,

ABUJA, NIGERIA.

    

2.  ON THE 3RD AND 4TH DEFENDANTS

The Editor, This Day Newspaper,

        Leaders & Company Limited

        Plot 1, Sector Centre B,

        Jabi Business District

        Solomon Lar Way, Jabi North East,

        Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERITORY NIGERIA

IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION

HOLDEN AT ABUJA

 

SUIT NO. FCT/HC/CV/      /2012

 

BETWEEN:

BARRISTER OKOI OBONO-OBLA   -               PLAINTIFF

 

AND

 

1.   BERNARD AFU, ESQUIRE

2.   BERNARD E. AFU & ASSOCIATES

(FOUNTAIN CHAMBERS)

3.   LEADERS & COMPANY                         DEFENDANTS

(PUBLISHERS OF THIS DAY

NEWSPAPER)

4.   MUHAMMED BELLO 

PRE-ACTION  COUNSELLING CERTIFICATE

I, JUSTINA OKA OBONO-OBLA (MRS.), Legal Practitioner of Trinity House, Second Floor, Mabushi, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria, to the said Plaintiff have gone through the facts of the case of the said Plaintiff and on my honour have appropriately counselled him on the relative strength of his case or otherwise and should this turn out to be frivolous, I am prepared to be liable as per the provisions of the rules of this Court.

------------------------------------

JUSTINA OKA OBONO-OBLA (MRS.)

(LEGAL PRACTITIONER TO THE PLAINTIFF)

..........................................................

CHIEF OKOI OBONO-OBLA

                                                              (PLAINTIFF)




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