A Kaduna State High Court on Tuesday awarded the sum of N10m against a publishing firm, Today Publishing Company, publishers of The Union Newspaper, as damages for defaming Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
The court also ordered the company to tender a public apology to the governor which must be published in five national dailies following a suit instituted against the newspaper by El-Rufai for allegedly publishing false claims about his assets declaration.
In the judgment delivered by Justice Mairo Muhammed, the presiding judge also restrained the defendants from further defaming the governor.
The court held that El-Rufai had shown that the offending material was published to third parties by the defendants.
“The plaintiff had satisfactorily shown that he did not declare assets worth N90bn and 40 mansions, the implication of which is that the words were false and defamatory of the plaintiff,” the judge held.
El Rufai’s lawyer, AbdulHakeem Mustapha, while celebrating the judgment, described it as “a well-considered judgment which was replete with industry and erudition.”
Also reacting to the court’s verdict, the governor said “the freedom to publish is not a license to defame people or clothe rumour-mongering and malice as journalism.”
He added that he had “approached the court and personally testified in the case as a demonstration of his belief in the rule of law, a stance he has taken in securing apologies from other newspapers for libel and which informs his continued pursuit of other instances of defamation in the courts.”
The Union Newspaper had, on July 2, 2015, reportedly published a front page story where it stated that El Rufai’s declared assets were worth N90bn and 40 mansions, which made the governor drag the paper to court.
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