Re: Defamation Against FCT Minister: Kaduna-Based Publisher Risks N5b Libel Suit
The attention of FUZA Communication Services Limited publishers DESERT HERALD newspaper and Magazine has been drawn to a publication in page 5 of the Blueprint newspaper of 19th June, 2013 where it was reported that the embattled FCT Minister, Senator Bala Muhammad had demanded a retraction and apology from the publisher of DESERT HERALD newspaper over what he called “series of damaging publications through DESERT HERALD and other national dailies” failure of which he will institute a criminal action against him. In the same report, the minister had also written to the Inspector General of Police to arrest and prosecutes Tukur Mamu for allegedly demanding N15 million through one Nosike Ogbuenyi where they claimed the transcript of the recorded conversation was tendered as part of the concocted ‘evidence’.
The publisher of DESERT HERALD has received two letters in that regard through the chambers of our respected brother Joe Kyari Gadzama on 19th June, 2013. One of the said letter is from the FCT Minister, Sen. Bala Muhammad demanding a retraction of our previous publications on the yet to be released book – FCT Administration: The Rot Within! or to claim for ‘damages’ of N5 billion, while the other letter was directed by the Director of Treasury of the FCT, Ibrahim Bomoi who incidentally is the brother to the DH publisher demanding same retraction or to ask for ‘damages’ of N2 billion in a court. In additional to the conspicuous efforts to involve the Police for persecution there was also another case that was allegedly filed on the instruction and sponsorship of the FCT Minister by one Uzoka Chukuemeka (an Igbo man) who claimed he was acting on behalf of himself and Niger Delta People in High Court No.7 at Maitama, Abuja all in a desperate attempt to block the book.
It is instructive to note that counsels to Sen. Bala’s agent, Uzoka have tried desperately to violate the law by attempting at the High Court No.7 in Maitama to draw back the case which was originally slated for hearing on 8th July, 2013 of Uzoka to 19th June, 2013 all in an attempt to get a restraining order through the backdoor. For that purpose they only arranged to bring to us the motion on notice and deliberately failed to attach it with the writ of summons. It was in the process of verification that we discovered that the original date in the motion on notice was altered to back date the summons without notifying us. Due to our prompt intervention the court registrar discovered the deliberate anomaly and adjusted it to the original date (8th July, 2013). The DESERT HERALD publisher’s life has been also under serious threat since the publication to release the book was made public.
In response to the letter from counsels to Sen. Bala Muhammad and Ibrahim Bomoi, DESERT HERALD under whose name all the said publications were made; also the publisher of the yet to be released book and Tukur Mamu hereby state as follows:-
a) That we stand by our earlier publication that Sen. Bala Muhammad, Ibrahim Bomoi and other FCT officials and appointees that featured prominently in the book are corrupt and we will not offer any public apology or a retraction;
b) That we are ready to defend our claim of corruption against the two public office holders whenever they decided to go to court;
c) That DESERT HERALD or Tukur Mamu under democracy that gave freedom of speech and expression and with the passing of the Freedom of Information (FoI) act which is already a law has not committed any crime to warrant such public apology to ANY of the parties;
d) That it is indeed the minister and his Director of Treasury that are supposed to tender their retraction and apology to Tukur Mamu for their multiple contradictions of claims of blackmail and extortion of N50m, N15m & N10m in the series of advertorials and articles they sponsored;
e) That the police should not allow themselves to be used by corrupt and insensitive public officers in their desire to persecute law abiding citizens;
f) That the idea of going to court they finally adopted is the best option for us as it will provide a suitable platform of sharing some content of our book to Nigerians;
g) It is also on record that even the outgoing Malaysian Ambassador to Nigeria due to the alarming rot in the FCT under the incumbent minister has carried damaging advertorial against the FCT Minister which indicate clearly his corrupt tendencies;
h) That DESERT HERALD and Tukur Mamu are eminently ready to defend themselves, provided the glaring act of impunity as demonstrated by the minister and his officials is checked; and
i) That what is currently going on is few among the series of intrigues by the FCT officials and other enemies targeted at destroying DESERT HERALD.
As we confront this massive onslaught by corrupt government appointees and officials who have amassed so much wealth from public treasury; and are willing to spend, no matter how much, to persecute and destroy us, we solicit the prayers of Nigerians and well-wishers in this difficult moment in history. We put our trust and hope in the hand of the Almighty Allah who we believe would grant us victory in the end.
Mal. Tukur Mamu