Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State has demanded N10 billion from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), as damages for wrongly accusing him of masterminding the arrest of one of its members.
Though the journalists have apologised and have withdrawn the allegation, the governor said the apology is inadequate and is demanding for more.
Masari had, after the union made the claim, denied that he was not behind the arrest of Nelson Omonu, a journalist with Summit Post News.
Discovering that the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Dutsin Ma, was behind the arrest and not Masari, the NUJ apologised to the governor and withdrew their allegation.
Following the allegation, the Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF), tasked Masari on press freedom.
But not satisfied with the NUJ apology, the Katsina State governor is now seeking N10 billion for what his lawyers called defamation of the governor’s character by the chairperson and secretary of the FCT NUJ chapter, Emmanuel Ogbeche and Ochaika Ugwu.
The governor’s lawyer, E.O. Obunadike, argued that the apology the two journalists tendered was not enough, hence the demand for compensation.
Obunadike, told journalists in Katsina on Thursday that the NUJ press statement had injured the character of the governor.
“Members of the public, after reading the said offensive and obnoxious material in several print and online newspapers, now regard our client as grossly incompetent in his administration and management of the affairs of Katsina State,” he said.
He further stated that an apology letter should also be published in eight national daily newspapers.
He said, “No small measure, blisteringly defamed, injured the character and hard earned reputation of our client, which was painstakingly built and nurtured over decades thereby exposing him to a lot of embarrassment, public ridicule and condemnation.
“The retraction of the first press statement should be done in eight national daily newspapers and N10 billion be paid as compensatory damages.”
He gave the journalists seven days to respond, saying, “If after seven days, we do not receive any positive response, we shall be constrained in perfecting our client’s final instructions by taking legitimate steps in accordance with the provisions of the law towards initiating both criminal and civil proceedings without further correspondence.“