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Defamation: Rights Lawyer Writes Sun Newspaper, Demands Public Apology Under 72hours



By Hannah Nathan, Warri

A human rights lawyer Omes Ogedegbe, Esq has written to the EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, The Sun Newspaper, No: 2 Coscharis Street, Kirikiri Industrial Layout, Lagos, Nigeria to render unreserved public apology over alleged defamation of character under 72 hours.

In a petition signed and issued to newsmen by his lawyer Igho Ogedegbe, Esq on Friday, demanded a 72hours unreserved public apology on defamatory publication issued against her clients by the Daily Sun Newspaper dated 2nd January, 2024.

As contained in the petition, his lawyer Igho Ogedegbe Esq said the petition was injurious, malicious, libellous and was orchestrated by perceived enemies using Sun Newspaper to execute their sinister plans.

The petition reads, “We have read your extensively shared news article from January 2, 2024, headlined “Delta: Over N80,000,000.00 (Eighty Million Naira) only police refund money tear activists apart,” in which you stated and it was understood by those to whom the publication was circulated, among other things.

According to the publication, “The release of N89,000,000.00 (eighty nine million) by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Olukayode Egbetokun, along with other valuables previously seized by Rivers State Police Command from a victim, Mr. Atubi Davidson, has caused sharp division among human rights activists in Delta State as they were unable to agree on a sharing formula.

“The Sun’s newspaper study showed that the disputes among the involved activists either directly by the victim or by proxy, through a third party, victim’s relations or acquaintances was based throughout the entire rehabilitation process.

“More information was obtained, indicating that Terry, a victim’s family friend, filed a lawsuit against his colleagues at the Ekpan Police Division Uvwie Council Area. Terry reportedly brought the issue up with other state activists.

“Based on this, all the activists laying claim to have a role in the recovery of the said money were all summoned Police Station to explain and show proof of the role they played individually or collectively, in order to justify the claim in the sharing of the money.

“That Barrister Ogedegbe, who was demanding the highest share of the money, had secure a court order requesting the impounding of the Victim’s car at the police station pending when his share was paid.

According to the lawyer, the petitioner Omes Ogedegebe, Esq. was briefed by one John Atubi (who was referred to as the victim) to question his arrest by police officers of the River State Police Command and a fundamental Right Action was filed in line with his instruction at the Federal High Court, Warri Judicial Division.

The petition further explained, “That upon the eventual release of the funds, the said John Atubi was no longer accessible on phone while he was yet to settle his legal fees.
That in view of our inability to reach him and his nonchalance in settling our legal fees, especially upon the report he was relocating out of the court’s jurisdiction, we were left with no other option than to explore all legal options available to us for an absconding defendant”.

According to the petitioner, “it was at the point of carrying out the order of the court that the victim drove the said car into the Ekpan police station and the police was forced to comply with the court order n compliance.

“We were therefore taking aback to have read how you termed same in your 2nd January, 2024 publication titled: Delta: Over N80,000,000.00 (Eighty Million n Naira) only police refund money tear activists apart. The action between Omes Ogedegbe, Esq. and Mr. John Atubi can not amount to what you termed infighting by activists.

The petition maintained, publication caused a serious disrepute to the character of the person of Omes Ogedegbe, Esq. when it said Barrister Ogedegbe, who was demanding the highest share of the money, had secured a court order requesting the impounding of the Victim’s car at the police station on pending when his share was paid.

It further stated, “Please be properly guided as we demand for an open apology for the vexatious publication caused to be published by you within 72 hours thereof leaving us with no other option than to institute legal action against you”.

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