by Dolapo Adelana
The managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Mrs Hadiza Bala Usman has instituted a N1 billion libel suit against an online medium, The Breaking Times Communication Nig Ltd and its publisher, Prince Henry Nwazuruahu Shield.
Usman dragged the medium to a high court of the Federal Capital Territory for publishing a libelous, false, deceptive and misleading report against her.
She described the defendant as a self-acclaimed youth noted for doing hatchet jobs for disgruntled politicians and using social media as a medium to spread fake news against prominent Nigerians.
In the suit, Mrs Usman said the online platform “on the 22nd of March, 2017, maliciously, unlawfully and without justification published false allegation against her on its Facebook page as follows:
“The Presidency has ordered for an investigation into the financial books of the Nigerian Ports Authority under the management of Mrs Hadiza Bala Usman for fraud”.
According to the plaintiff, the online medium added by saying, “Mrs Hadiza Bala Usman, the MD of the Nigerian Ports Authority who once served as Governor El Rufai’s Chief of Staff is alleged to have given $25,000 to several APC chieftains to support El-Rufai’s emergence as Vice President under the assumption that President Buhari may not return to Nigeria from his medical leave.”
The NPA boss said the publication constituted a serious and scandalous charge against her as a reputable and prominent public office holder.
In her particulars of malice, Mrs Usman claimed, “the defendants are being used and sponsored by some disgruntled politicians and vested interests who are offended by the plaintiff’s policy of following due process and compliance with Federal Government’s laid down procedure for doing business at the Nigeria Ports Authority which is designed to rid the Nigerian ports of corrupt practices and its attendant loss of revenue to the Federal Government.
The suit marked CV/1548/17 and filed on behalf of Usman by A.U Mustapha SAN, is seeking, “A declaration that the above allegations published by the defendants concerning the plaintiff are unlawful, false, malicious and without any justification and have done irreparable damage to the reputation of the plaintiff who is of high standing and prominence in Nigeria and the International community.
“An order compelling the defendants to pay the plaintiff the sum of N1,000,000,000.00 (one billion Naira) only as damages for the incalculable harm, psychological pain and loss of reputation caused to the plaintiff by the defendant’s unlawful and malicious publication concerning the plaintiff.
“An order compelling the defendants to tender an unreserved apology to the plaintiff and publish a retraction of the offending publication on their Facebook page and online news platform respectively, other online platforms and 5 prominent Nigerian newspapers.
Usman is also praying that, “An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants either by themselves, servants, agents, privies or through any person or persons howsoever from further defaming the reputation of the plaintiff and publication of defamatory content against the plaintiff.
However, the suit is yet to be assigned to a judge.