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Court slams N10m fine on newspaper

The FCT High Court in Maitama, Abuja on Wednesday slammed a N10 million fine as damages on Abuja Inquirer and Gazzetta Communication Ltd for libellous publication against Mr Kingsley Kuku.

The libellous material was contained in the defendants’ July 27 to Aug. 2, 2015 edition.

Kuku, a lawmaker in the Ondo Hosue of Assembly, was a former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs, and Chairperson of Presidential Committee on Amnesty Programme.

Justice Jude Okeke in his judgment held that the defendants failed to provide evidence to prove that their publication was not libellous.

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He declared that the publication captioned “ Kingsley Kuku flees Nigeria” was defamatory of the plaintiff.

“The plaintiff in this case having proved his case of libel is entitled to damages. With the findings the court resolves the issue above in favour of the plaintiff.

“The defendants are ordered to pay not the N500 million claimed by the plaintiff but N10 million only for the aforesaid libel,” he said.

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The judge also awarded a N50, 000 cost to the plaintiff for the success of the suit.

He directed the defendants to retract the publication as well as publish an unreserved apology to the plaintiff in one newspaper circulating in Nigeria and Abuja Inquirer within 14 days.

The court granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from further publishing of the same defamatory words against the plaintiff.

Okeke remarked that the defendants’ statements in the publication in their natural and ordinary meanings were understood to mean that the plaintiff was deemed a fugitive already declared wanted by the EFCC.

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The judge noted that the words were also adjudged to mean that the plaintiff had embezzled hundreds of millions of naira and dollars.

“Also he is adjudged to be an incompetent public officer, a misfit in government, a criminal and a fraudulent, flashy, reckless and wasteful public officer with impunity deliberately evading investigation,’’ he said. (NAN)

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