Defamation: Court Orders Newspaper To Apologize, Pay Damages To El-Rufai - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS

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Monday, November 8, 2021

Defamation: Court Orders Newspaper To Apologize, Pay Damages To El-Rufai

El Rufai

KADUNA - A High Court has ordered Today Publishing Company, publishers of The Union newspaper, to tender an apology and pay N10m for defaming Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state.


Governor El-Rufai had approached the court in 2015, after The Union published false claims about his assets declaration, in suit number KAD/KDH/285/15, which had Today’s Publishing Company Ltd as defendant.

Justice M.L. Muhammed of the Kaduna State High Court who delivered judgment, ordered the defendants to pay El-Rufai the sum of N10m as general damages and tender an apology which must be published in national dailies.

The court also perpetually restrained the defendants from further defaming Governor El-Rufai.

It will be recalled that the case followed a front-page story which was published in The Union on 2nd July 2015 of July, falsely claiming that the governor had declared assets worth N90bn and 40 mansions.

El-Rufai’s lawyer, A.U. Mustapha (SAN), praised the judgment “as a well-considered judgment which was replete with industry and erudition”.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state has noted that his victory at the High Court is a clear statement that the freedom to publish is not a license to defame people or clothe rumour-mongering and malice as journalism.

The governor also noted that ‘’beyond the damages awarded and the apology ordered by the court, this judgment reaffirms the primacy of facts and appropriate verification in responsible journalism.’’

In a statement issued by Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye in reaction to the verdict, El-Rufai said that he will donate ‘’the N10m damages awarded by the court to the Kaduna State Disability Trust Fund.’’

The statement added that ‘’by approaching and personally testifying in the case, Malam Nasir El-Rufai has further demonstrated his belief in the rule of law, a stance he has taken in previous cases, securing apologies and retractions from other newspapers for libel.’’

Adekeye said that the governor thanks his team of lawyers, led by A.U. Mustapha (SAN), for their diligent pursuit of the matter.

The Special Adviser recalled that ‘’in July 2015, less than two months into his tenure as governor of Kaduna state, The Union newspaper published a false story on his asset declaration.

‘’The reporter who filed the story based his outlandish claims on nothing more than rumour and a sense of impunity, an expectation that victims of defamation would resort to negotiation with and reward those who seek to besmirch their reputation,’’ he added.

The statement recalled that El-Rufai ‘’swiftly issued a statement to debunk the story the very day it was published and affirmed his intention to approach the court for redress.

According to Adekeye, Justice M.L. Muhammed delivered judgment in the case on November 2021, six years after the case was filed.

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