N250 million libel: Ex bank manager drags Sowore, Sahara Reporters to court
A former Manager with the Zenith Bank Plc, Dr. Osadebe Osakwe has dragged the publisher of Sahara Reporters Mr. Omoyele Sowore and the Sahara Reporters Media group to a Lagos High Court seeking the sum of N250 million each as damages from the defendants for alleged defamation of character.
Dr. Osadebe who is also the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of North China Construction Nigeria in his statement of claim, alleged that the defendants in their online news media, website and blog on 17th May 2016, published the offensive material captioned “Zenith Bank Manager uses Armed thugs to take land from indigenes”.
The publication went further to say “A crisis is reportedly brewing between Igbodo Community in the Ika North East and Onicha-ugbo community in Aniocha North Local Government Area (LGA) of Delta state following alleged criminal activities coordinated by a Manager of Zenith Bank Plc, Osadebe Osakwe. Dr. Osakwe, an indigene of Onicha-Ugbo community and a Manager of Zenith Bank Plc has allegedly been using armed thugs to seize land from residents of Igbodo community.
“Sahara Reporters reliably gathered that Dr. Osakwe who has used the confiscated land to established a farm called “Adagat” Agricultural Ventures Limited” has continuously boasted that the Minister for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu and his brother, a Senior Police Officer are solidly behind his land-grabbing from the people of Igbodo community for the purpose of starting a World Bank farming project…”.
The Plaintiff, who also alleged that the defendants in another publication on 19th April, 2018 titled: “Scandal: Gov. Okowa, Sister, SSG and Others Embroiled in N13.6bn Secretariat Complex Fraud.” The defendants in the publication on their website stated that: “Delta state Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, his sister, Ivana Shenton, Secretary to the State Government, (SSG), Festus Ovie Agas, Commissioner for Special Duties, Government House, Asaba, Henry Sakpra, a former Zenith Bank Manager, Osadebe Osakwe and others have been indicted in a N13.6 billion fraud scandals related to a new secretariat complex being built by the state and information available to this website indicated that the governor, awarded the contract for the new central secretariat complex to North China Construction Company Nigeria Limited (NCCG) which allegedly has the governor’s Sister, Ivana Shenton and former Zenith Bank Manager, Osadebe Osakwe as frontiers.’
“Checks by Sahara Reporters revealed that North China Construction Nigeria Limited was registered two years before the emergence of Okowa as a governor with Corporate Affairs Commission registration number, RC 1113315, and is being managed by Osadebe Osakwe, the former Zenith Bank manager who is also a strong ally of the Delta governor… It was alleged Osakwe spent a fortune in making sure Okowa emerged governor of Delta state in 2015 general elections. It described the contract as ‘a conduit pipe being used by Governor Okowa to drain the state’s treasury ahead of his second term bid….”
Dr. Osadebe said the defendants have caused to be made and published several publication against him through their online media to reduce his estimation before the average right thinking members of the society.
He said the publications of the defendants have clearly and deliberately represented to the whole world that he is a stooge, corrupt, fraudster, a killer, a cheat, a dubious fellow of questionable character, a thief, lacking in integrity and an enemy of the people of Delta State of Nigeria, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the International Community altogether, and these imputations are in no doubt defamatory against any standards worldwide.
Briefing journalists, Dr. Osadebe’s lawyer, Barr. Patrick Odozi stated in his word “I know that the said unverified and unsubstantiated publications which was put in an international online news media and published worldwide, is completely false and fabricated, and I strongly emphasize that in all the said publications the defendants defamed the character and image of my client on the internet which has been published and read and still being read till date by different people within Nigeria and abroad who have now come to see my client as a brute, corrupt and a debased fellow,” The lawyer asserted.