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Seplat sues online publishers, demands ₦200b damages over bribery allegations

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
02 September 2022   |   7:17 pm
Seplat Energy Plc,  a Nigerian independent energy company, has dragged two online publishers - Persecond News Limited and Street Journal Limited, before an Imo State High Court for alleged libel. The firm  has also asked the court to order each of the news steads to pay ₦100 billion in general and exemplary damages. The online…

Seplat is an independent energy firm based in Nigeria.

Seplat Energy Plc,  a Nigerian independent energy company, has dragged two online publishers – Persecond News Limited and Street Journal Limited, before an Imo State High Court for alleged libel.

The firm  has also asked the court to order each of the news steads to pay ₦100 billion in general and exemplary damages.

The online media outfits were said to have,  in the wake of the controversy that trailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the $1.28 billion sale of  ExxomMobil USA shares in Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) to Seplat Energy, alleged that $100 million was given as graft to some top government officials “with a view to compromising the process leading to where the purported approval was announced on Monday by President Buhari”.

But, Seplat had promptly denied the allegation stating that: “Such reports are wholly untrue and that the company will pursue legal action against any party involved in disseminating false information against him and the company.

Consequently, Seplat has instituted law suits against the media outfits.

The first is marked, HOW/901/2022 and has Perseconds News Limited, Olufemi Sonoye, Dr. Olu Cole, Samantha Fox, Nkechi sonoye, Akinsola Olakunle Ayodele and Stella Igwe as defendants.

The second case is marked HOW/902/2022, and has Street Journal Limited, Bowale Oluwole Arisekola, Felix Olokede, and Arisekola Morenike Olatun as defendants.

Seplat is seeking a declaration by the court that the report identically titled “Seplat/ExxonMobil $100 million Bribery Gate: Heads May Roll as President Buhari Orders Investigation”, by both news platforms in their Wednesday, August 10 editions, amounted to a libel against the energy firm.

Seplat according to the court processes is equally seeks an order directing each of the news stables to publish retractions of the said publication in a prominent part of two national newspapers and their respective news platforms “with a written apology” to the firm.

Other reliefs sought include that the sum of ₦50 billion be awarded in general damages for libel.

Seplat  is also asking the court fir an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from publishing further defamatory articles on the plaintiff through the defendants’ website or by other means or media; and cost of action in the sum of ₦100 million”.

Meanwhile, the trial judge, Justice K.A Leweanya, has made an order directing both parties to maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

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