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Defamation: Court Orders Newspaper To Pay Gov El-Rufai ₦10million




Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has commended the State High Court for its judgment which has earned him the sum of ten million naira to be paid by The Union newspaper.

Concluding on a suitcase filed against the defendant in 2015, the judge, Justice M.L. Muhammed on Tuesday said he found the news publishing platform guilty of defamation as accused by the governor through his legal counsel.

The judge ordered the defendant to tender an apology which must be published in national dailies and also vow never to again defame Governor El-Rufai.

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

The news publishing platform had alleged in a report on the front page of its papers dated 2nd July 2015 that the sitting governor had declared assets worth N90bn and 40 mansions. A claim which the governor had denied.

Reacting to the State High Court ruling earlier, El-Rufai’s lawyer, A.U. Mustapha, SAN praised the judgment “as a well-considered judgment which was replete with industry and erudition”.

Governor El-Rufai has also lauded the judgment “as a clear statement that the freedom to publish is not a license to defame people or clothe rumor-mongering and malice as journalism”.

He said that “he approached the court and personally testified in the case as a demonstration of his belief in the rule of law, a stance he has taken in securing apologies from other newspapers for libel and which informs his continued pursuit of other instances of defamation in the courts”.

The court held that the plaintiff had clinically demonstrated through his pleadings and evidence led in support that he never declared assets worth ₦90bn and 40 mansions.

The court reiterated the ingredients that the plaintiff had proven the ingredients of defamation to wit: “publication of the offending words; that the words refer to the plaintiff; that the words are defamatory of the plaintiff; that the words were published to third parties; that the words are false; and that there are no justifiable legal grounds for the said publication.”

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