Law News
Media consultant sues petroleum minister, claims N1bn damages

AN Abuja-based media consultant, Simon Imobo-Tswam has dragged the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke before an Abuja High Court for libel, mischief and the unauthorised use of his name, phone number and platform for image-laundering.

In the suit No: No. CV/1679/15, the Plaintiff, who is claiming N1 billion as “general and compensatory damages, alleged that the minister and her secret media agents used his name, his phone number and the letter-head of his platform, Network of Progressive Activists (NPA), to engage in a media attack against former President Olusegun Obasanjo and to defend the minister’s alleged expenditure of public funds to the tune of N10 billion on chartered jets.

In the Writ of Summons filed by counsel to the plaintiff, Chris Alashi, the Plaintiff is praying the court for “interest on damages awarded at the rate of 18 per cent per annum on the judgment sum awarded from the date of judgment until the judgment sum is finally liquidated.”

According to the particulars of the Suit filed on April 7, 2015, after ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo published his letter, entitled: “Before It Is Too Late” to Goodluck  Jonathan in December 2013, Michael Mukwuzi, a staff of the NNPC, acting as private agent of the minister, approached the plaintiff to appear on AIT to castigate Obasanjo  and follow the AIT appearance with a press release in the plaintiff’s name/platform.

The plaintiff states that although he refused, “despite the attractive financial inducement offered, the second defendant (Mukwuzi), wrote the said press release, and, in conjunction with the 3rd Defendant (Timothy Ademola), caused same to be published by the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth defendants as well as many other media outfits deliberately purporting that the plaintiff issued the press release in conjunction the third defendant; whereas the plaintiff never subscribed to, signed nor issued the said release.”

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit assigned to Court 26, presided over by Justice M. M. Kolo.

The press release, entitled: “Our opinion on the Venomous Open Letter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan and President Jonathan’s Necessary Reply”, The Plaintiff is averring further that following public outcry of corruption, profligacy and financial recklessness against the 1st Defendant (Diezani Alison-Madueke) over her expenditure of over N10 Billion of public funds on her chartered jets, her agent (2nd Defendant) once again contacted the Plaintiff to use his name and platform to defend the minister on Channels and AIT as well as write articles in the newspapers in defence of her actions.

According to the writ, “The Plaintiff told the second Defendant point-blank in the presence of the 3rd Defendant that neither himself nor the platform over which he superintends as National Secretary, would defend such brazen acts of corruption, fraud, profligacy, financial recklessness and economic sabotage allegedly perpetrated by the first Defendant.

The Plaintiff avers that since the publications of the stories and advertorials, with his platform, name and telephone number, he has continued to receive calls from family members, professional colleagues and church-members, accusing him of compromise, supporting corruption, economic sabotage and being bought over by the presidency and the ministry of Petroleum Affairs; a development that forced him to go into hiding for some time.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit assigned to Court 26, presided over by Justice M.M. Kolo.

Click here to read from source.