…..says my friends, family now regard me as thief
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA- Media mogul and Chiarman Emeritus of DAAR Communications Plc, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, has instituted N5billion defamation suit against the Minister of Information & Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, following the inclusion of his name in the list of treasury looters.
Dokpesi who is a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, told the court that the Information Minuster had in a press conference he granted on March 30, portrayed him as “a corrupt and crooked person, a dishonest man and a thief”.
In the suit he filed before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Dokpesi maintained that his reputation has been seriously injured, saying he has suffered considerable distress, odium, obloquy, ridicule, as well as political analysis in the media, castigating him on the basis of the inclusion of his name as number four on the looters’ list.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, was cited as the 2nd defendant in the suit marked CV/1650/18, which the plaintiff filed through his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN.
Aside demanding N5bn as damages for libel, the plaintiff further prayed the court to order the defendants to publish a full retraction and apology to him in all the major electronic and print media outlets in the country.
He equally applied for a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, whether by themselves, their servants, agents, partners, representatives, privies and/or otherwise howsoever, from further writing, publishing, speaking or cause to be written, published or spoken, the said words complained of or any word to the like effect, which are similarly defamatory to the plaintiff.
More so, he asked the court to compel the defendants to pay N50million to cover cost of the litigation.
In his Statement of Claim, Dokpesi insisted that he had a sterling career in the public public sector and in business, adding that he has been considered for several national assignments and held several professional positions.
He said the 1st defendant, Mohammed, had in the controversial statement “that went viral on social media”, painted a picture of him as a person “unfit to hold any public office, a man of unconscionable and questionable character, incapable of being trusted with public funds, wicked, selfish, inhuman and uninterested in the plight of suffering Nigerians”.
As well as a man that lacks integrity and worth.
“Further and by way of innuendos, the defamatory words complained of above and used by the Defendants also meant and were understood to mean that the plaintiff is a hypocrite”.
Dokpesi decried that Lai Mohammed’s statement was carefully schemed and embarked upon as a way of vendetta to denigrate, disgrace, embarrass, humiliate and subject him to inhuman and degrading treatment before right thinking members of the society.
He told the court that many people both within and outside the country called and expressed their dissapointment that they never knew he was a man of dubious character, adding that most of his friends, family members and professional colleagues have been avoiding him as they now see him as a dishonest man.
Besides, Dokpesi told the court based on Mohammed’s “reckless” and “malicious” statement, the United States Embassy, via a letter dated March 16, revoked his visa.
He alleged that FG had before the looters’ list was released by the 1st defendant, sent same to many foreign agencies and embassies, “requesting them not to deal with us because we are looters”.
The plaintiff told the court that he had earlier pleaded not guilty to Charge No FHC/ABJ/CR/380/2015, even as he contended that inclusion of his name as one of the looters that received N2. 1billion from office of the then National Security Adviser, compromised his constitutionally guaranteed right to presumption of innocence.
He said his right to fair hearing has been violated by the malicious publication he said was tantamount to public media trial.
Meantime, no date has been fixed for hearing of the case.