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Okuama Killing: IPF steps down N50BN defamation law suit against Vanguard Newspaper 




By Stephen Asaba-ase

The Ijaw press council, the Ijaw Publishers’ Forum, IPF, has given reasons of stepping down moves to slam Vanguard Newspaper N50BN naira defamation suit over report alleging that “Irate Ijaw Youth Kills Soldiers” in Okuama Community in Ughelli Local government area of Delta State on March 16, 2024.

The report, according to the group was a grand plot to twist facts and to incite the military against Ijaw nation in the Okuama killing, adding that Ijaw communities both in Delta and Bayelsa States had faced great military onslaught following the mischievous Vanguard report.

Congress learnt that following the killing of 17 soldiers, comprising Colonel, Major, two captains and 13 soldiers in Okuama community in Ughelli South local government area of Delta State, Vanguard Newspaper had issued a publication on 16th March 2024, stating that “Irates Ijaw Youth Kills Soldiers” in Okuama community. The report cased serious tension and fury in Ijaw nation, prompting serious backlash and condemnation on the newspaper.

In a statement signed by its President Comrade Austin Ozobo emphasised that the group decided to step down the N50BN suit following the subsequent correction of the misleading information and online headline upon the demand for correction and apology by IPF.

The group had earlier demanded for immediate retraction and apology from Vanguard Newspaper under 48 hours on 16th March, 2024.

Meanwhile, the Ijaw news agency had posited that the move to step down its action was due to the overwhelming support of the Vanguard South-South regional editor, Emma Amaze for amplifying the marginalization of Niger Delta, adding that his true support for the development of Niger Delta region was greatly acknowledged even in the face of provocation.

The Publishers said they became infuriated following the reoccurring conspiracy theory emanating from the Okuama killing and other critical issues concerning Ijaw people, noting that such always come from Vanguard Newspaper.

The Ijaw press council, despite decided to drop litigation against the paper, insisted that the massive killing of Ijaws in Igbomotoro community, invasion of High Chief Dr E.K Clark home and other invasions and arrest of Ijaw people in Delta and Bayelsa were incited by the mischievous report from Vanguard Newspaper.

The group said it would forgive Vanguard because Emma Amaze, its South-South regional editor had contributed much in mentoring some Ijaw sons and daughters in the media, and others who chose activism in career part.

IPF further maintained that though Vanguard is not about Emma Amaze but since it happened in his coverage area which is the Niger Delta, directly or indirectly the intended legal battle would have affected his relationship with the people of Ijaw nation.

The group appealed to their brother Mr Sam Amuka-Pemu, the publisher of Vanguard Newspaper to always guide against slander, defamation and inciting reports against the Ijaw nation and its people, noting that the group had witnessed several of such reports, and that if it continued, Ijaw nation would reacts unfriendly, and such is capable of destroying Ijaw patronage for Vanguard Newspaper.

The apex Ijaw media organ, said it had briefed its lawyer of the intention to step down the litigation processes, adding that the decision was taken in good fate and for the best interest of the group.