Publisher Sues Journalists over Alleged Defamation

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By Alex Enumah

The publisher of an Abuja-based communication outfit, PRNigeria, Mallam Yushau Shuaib, has dragged a freelance journalist, Mr. Terrence Kuanum, to court over alleged libelous publications made against him.

Yushau, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) presidential award winner, is asking the court to award the sum of N500 million in his favour as general and exemplary damages for alleged defamation of his character through the said publications in several online media on February 1, 2020.

In the libel suit instituted at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court through his counsel, Yunus AbdulSalam, the plaintiff is praying the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant by himself or his agents from further writing, printing or causing to be printed or circulated any similar libelous materials against him.

He further applied for an order of the court compelling the defendant to tender public apology in at least two national dailies with wide circulation in Nigeria and to retract the alleged libelous and offending publications against him.

The plaintiff in the suit complained that the defendant, a freelance journalists with a television outfit, published libelous publications against him by calling him an empathizer and spy proxy for the Boko Haram terrorist group as well as Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP).

In the writ of summons with reference number CV/1705/2020 dated June 3, 2020, and issued against the defendant, the plaintiff claimed that the libelous statement against his reputation and public image were contained in an article entitled: ‘A Rejoinder to An Impenitent Boko Haram Empathizer, Yushau Shuaib Spleen in memo to President Muhammadu Buhari on Service Chiefs’ published by the Authority Newspapers online.

He further complained that he was libeled by the defendant in another publication with the caption: ‘A Rejoinder to Shuaib’s Memo to President Buhari on Service Chiefs” published by The Cable newspapers online.

In his statement of claim, the plaintiff who claimed to be a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano, and Master’s Degree holder in Public Relations from the University of Westminster, London, said he had bagged several national and international awards, including presidential NYSC honour and automatic employments at state and federal civil service in the course of his duties.

The plaintiff claimed that on January 28, 2020, he wrote a widely published article entitled: ‘Memo to President Buhari on Service Chiefs published by The Punch, Premium Times, SaharaReporters and Daily Post newspapers.

In the said article Shuaib claimed that he had argued for the present Service Chiefs to be let go when the ovation is still audible and after giving the best of their skills to the country to allow a smooth progression in service through promotion of other competent military officers.

He added that his position was anchored on the necessity of enabling a new cadre of officers to come through in the national security architecture if the war on terror must be won.

However, the plaintiff claimed that to his surprise, few days after, he came across several online publications where he found the offending articles targeted at him by Terrence.

Shuaib said that the publications damaged his professional reputation and caused him considerable distress, embarrassment and also exposed him to hatred, odium, contempt, scorn and isolation by colleagues and associates.