BREAKING: Rivers High Court orders Lai Mohammed to pay Secondus N20m in damages over defamation

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and two others to pay twenty million Naira to the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, as damages over defamatory publication.

It could be recalled that Alhaji Mohammed, on March 30, 2018, released a list of alleged looters on behalf of the Federal Government.

In the list were the PDP Chairman—Secondus who, according to Mohammed, on the 19th of February 2015, allegedly took N200 million from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).

Others are:

  • Former PDP Financial Secretary — allegedly took N600 million from the office of former NSA.
  • Former National Publicity Secretary Olisa Metuh — allegedly collected N1.4 billion from the office of former NSA.
  • Dr Raymond Dokpesi, Chairman of DAAR Communications, allegedly took N2.1 billion from the office of the former NSA, etc.

Disconcerted over the publication, Prince Secondus took to the Port Harcourt High Court for redress.

He was represented by Echezona C. Etiaba, SAN, N. J. Asoh, Esq. E. S. Aluzu, Esq. R. C. Keneboh, Esq. and F. E. Obiosio, Esq.

On Thursday, the Court, in suit number PHC/1013/2018, ruled against Lai Mohammed and his co-defendants and ordered them to pay Secondus twenty million Naira.

In the summary of judgment delivered by Hon. Justice A. I. Iyayi-Lamikanra, C.J  on May 20, 2021,

The claimant by a writ of summons filed this suit on the 6th of April 2018 for the following claims:

  1. A declaration that the publication made by the Defendant’s against the Claimant (the subject matter of this suit is defamatory)
  2. A court order directing the Defendant’s to retract the said publication and apologize in writing to the Claimant for the defamatory publication.
  3. An order of the Court directing the Defendant’s to publish the retraction and the written apology in all the News and Social Media including but not limited to The Nations Newspaper, This Day Newspaper, Sun Newspaper, Guardian Newspaper, Punch Newspaper, Nigerian Television Authority, Channels Television amongst others where the defamatory materials were published.
  4. An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendant’s their Agents and privies from further publishing the Defamatory publication against the Claimant.
  5. Damages for the sum of N1,500,000,000.00 (one billion, five hundred million Naira ) only by the Defendant’s to the Claimant being general damages for humiliation, castigation, verification, attack of his person and integrity by the defamatory publication.
  6. Cost of the suit.
  7. For such further order or orders as the Court may seem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.

The court, thereafter, ruled that the Claimant’s case succeeds and the Defendants are jointly and severally liable for the libelous publication made against the Claimant.

It also ruled that the 1st, 2nd and 3rd  Defendants shall publish a written apology in favour of the Claimant in the newspaper of the 3rd Defendant.

Justice Iyayi-Lamikanra gave an Order of injunction restraining the Defendants, whether by themselves, agents or privies from further publishing defamatory statements against the Claimant.

He finally ordered the Defendants to pay the sum of 20 million Naira to the Claimant as damages.

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