- Threatens N5 Billion Libel Over Alleged Character Defamation
By Amos Aar
THE BENUE State Government has demanded of the New Telegraph Newspaper the retraction and an apology over an alleged defamatory report on the person of Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, the state governor.
The state government is also demanding for the payment of five billion naira as compensation from the publishers of the newspaper, over the alleged defamatory publication.
The Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Alia, Tersoo Kula, in a statement on Thursday stated that the online edition of the New Telegraph had on Monday, December 11, 2023, published a story with the caption: “2027: Alia Joins Forces With Rotimi Amaechi – …Donates Lexus LX 600 SUV To Former Transportation Minister.”
Kula disclosed that sequel to his statement, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and Public Order, Benue State, F. B. Mnyim, had written to the Publisher of New Telegraph in which he described the said publication as false and fabricated, aimed at demeaning the character of the governor and to “paint him bad as someone using state funds to offer gratification and compensation for personal favours.”
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The CPS quoted the State Attorney General as saying; “the publication made available online portrayed our client as unprofessional, unprincipled, unethical, and dishonorable, unreasonable and prejudiced public officer who is insensitive, indifferent, and apathetic to the plight of the Benue people and party men who supported and voted him into office as the Governor of Benue State on the platform of All Progressive Congress (APC).
“The said publication was with a clear intent and motive to vilify, malign, denigrate, disparage and defame our client and portray him in bad light in the eyes of reasonable members of the public, especially to incite the Benue people, members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the general public against our client.
“The publication was made in an invidious, unpleasant, insidious, sinister and treacherous manner and it has inflicted and caused grievous pains, shock, anguish, psychological torture and trauma, humiliation, degradation, dishonor, embarrassment and dehumanization of our client, and reviling and holding our client up to public obloquy, lowering him in the estimation of the public, and exposing him to disgrace, dishonour and contempt”.
The statement added that the Attorney General had on behalf of the Benue State Government called for the withdrawal of the publication, accompanied by a clear and “unqualified apology” published in the newspaper within the next 24 hours as well as N5 Billion as compensation for the injurious publication of which failure to do so will attract a court action.
“On account of the foregoing, our client has instructed us to request and or demand, and we do hereby perfect those instructions, that: (a) You withdraw the offensive publication forthwith accompanied by a clear and unqualified apology to be published conspicuously in the next issue of your publication. (b) You pay compensation to our client in the total sum of N5 Billion only for the damage caused to our client’s reputation, integrity and character. (c) You are to act within 24 hours of the receipt of this letter.
“Take notice that if our client’s demands herein are not addressed, resolved or fulfilled within the time prescribed, our client shall be at liberty to seek redress in a court of law, in accordance with the remedies outlined above, without further recourse to you”, Kula further quoted the Attorney General.