Nigerian lawyer, businessman and philanthropist, Ned Nwoko is demanding the sum of N10 billion as damages from Sahara Reporters for its alleged defamatory reports about him on their media platform.
Mr Nwoko, a former member of the House of Representatives, said in a letter addressed to the media company by his lawyers at Rolls law firm, that the online newspaper’s attack against his person was evident in a publication dated August 14, 2020 and captioned, “How Ned Nwoko Humiliated Monarch, Asked Police To Dig Up Palace.”
“You maliciously and falsely stated that Ned Nwoko, a former federal lawmaker from Delta State, ‘Ordered the arrest of Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko, monarch of the town, and subsequently asked the police to ransack his palace,'” the letter dated December 20, 2021 and signed by Onyeka Nwokolo read.
“Your said false publication claimed that our client was induced to take the above stated action because, ‘the monarch and some residents of Idumuje-Ugboko had opposed Nwoko’s attempt to forcefully acquire additional 90 hectares of land from an area earmarked for all indigenes of the community.’
“Your references to our client as an unconscionable land grabber who has intimidated and cowed an entire community in order to takeover people’s lands gravely profiles him as a bully, marauder, buccaneer, pirate, Viking, and a bandit.”
The letter said Nwoko deliberately ignored the publications to focus on “more serious projects.”
However, it continued, “Few days ago, our client’s attention was to drawn to yet another false, wicked, malicious and defamatory publication dated 15th December, 2021 by you and published in several News and Social media captioned, ‘EX-HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MEMBER, NED NWOKO ACCUSED OF SCAMMING AFRICAN LEADERS WITH ‘WHITE ELEPHANT PROJECTS’, wherein you published to the world and repeated the above cited falsehood about our client intimidating an entire community and grabbing their lands by coercion.
“You went further to add new and false claims about the Paris Club Refunds and the Malaria Eradication Project being undertaken by the Ned Nwoko Foundation. Our clients’ involvement with the Paris Club Refund in Nigeria has been an open subject and public knowledge. It has been subjected to judicial scrutiny, private company review and audit by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and forensic investigation three (3) times by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“In 2016, at a time no money had been paid to our client the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami in response to a claim by a whistleblower NGO, that our client has been paid about $6bUSD with the respect to the Paris Club Refund issued a stern instruction to the EFCC to conduct detailed investigation against our client. He was invited and volumes of documents and files taken away. The EFCC Investigation Report affirmed our clients’ role in the Paris Club Refunds. Two successive review investigations were further carried out by the EFCC with the same outcome. Our client was subsequently paid part of his entitlements.”
Nwoko denied all the allegations and made the following demands: “That you publish in two national newspapers as well as in your online News Media statement retracting the Libelous Publications of 14th August 2020 and 15th December 2021 respectively with an unreserved apology.
“That the sum of #10,000,000,000 (Ten Billion Naira) only be paid to our clients’ compensation for the malicious, false and disparaging publications.