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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Magu Sues The Sun For N100M, Over report On Wife

Magu Sues The Sun For N100M, Over report On Wife

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Chairman Ibrahim Mustafa Magu

Eleven days after operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) invaded The Sun, acting chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has filed a suit at a Lagos High Court, against the newspaper over an alleged defamation.

Magu, in his statement of claims, signed by his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, wants the court to declare that the story published in Saturday Sun of March 25, 2017, which talked about two houses allegedly linked to his wife, defamed him.

The EFCC boss also wants the court to declare, “an order for publication of apology, retraction and rebuttal of the libelous material by defendants on the front page of the Saturday Sun newspaper for seven consecutive editions of the newspaper and two other major newspapers for seven consecutive days.”

He also seeks an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants or their cronies, group of people, association or anyone, however, called through the defendants or any newspaper/magazine, from further publishing or disseminating the libelous materials or similar one against the claimant forthwith.”

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He urged the court to award, “damages in the sum of N100 million only against the defendants and in favour of the claimant.”

Magu’s lawyer had earlier in March written a letter threatening to sue The Sun for N5bn if it didn’t retract its story.

On June 12, EFCC operatives had invaded The Sun premises, following which the newspaper has consistently maintained that Magu was on vendetta mission over Saturday Sun’s story about his wife.

The Sun statement said: “Magu had, in an earlier letter, threatened to sue The Sun over a report published by one of our titles, pertaining to a report on investigation of property allegedly traced to his wife.

“In the light of the above, we strongly view this onslaught against The Sun as a personal vendetta by the leadership of the Commission, and by extension a declaration of war against the media.

“In this invasion of our premises, it is crystal clear that Magu and his Commission are not only out to intimidate and muzzle us, but also a furious attempt to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it.”

Reacting to The Sun invasion, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) had condemned the action, calling it a “sad reminder of the dark years of military dictatorship and a deliberate effort to muzzle the press.”

In a statement by its President, Funke Egbemode, the NGE said it received the news of EFCC invasion with shock.

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The Guild of Editors said the action of the EFCC was unbecoming of a government agency set up by an Act of parliament in a democracy, while urging the anti-graft agency to pursue civil means of addressing perceived infraction by a critical stakeholder in the Nigerian democratic project.

It said: “Rather than see the Fourth Estate of the Realm as an opposition, the commission should realise that the media is an indispensable partner in its fight against corruption.

“The NGE notes that the latest affront on The Sun by operatives of the EFCC is one in a number of targeted attempts by a section of the nation’s security agencies to gag free press.”

The editors’ body condemned the EFCC action and called on “the Commission to purge itself of all anti-democratic tendencies in order to foster mutual co-operation with the media and other stakeholders in its crusade against graft.”

It also called on the EFCC to put an end to its current attempts to gag the press and demands an unreserved apology from the Commission to The Sun.

On its part, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) expressed worry that the media was being attacked by the same security operatives that needed its support in fighting terrorism, corruption and other criminal activities in the country.

A statement by the national president of the NUJ, Abdulwaheed Odusile, said: “In a democracy, security personnel should not be seen to be intimidating the media, no matter the perceived offence. Rather, civilised means and ways should be employed to check any excesses or misdemeanour.

“It becomes more disheartening when such an invasion is carried out without any cogent reason, thus giving the impression that the action was merely a political act aimed at instilling fear into the organisation.

“The union regrets this violation of press freedom and freedom of journalists to work without being molested.”
The NUJ advised the EFCC to tender an unconditional apology to The Sun for its “untoward” action.

The Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), in its reaction, describing the invasion of The Sun as “a self-help mission, a voyage to intimidate journalists, criminalise journalism and cower free speech.”

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In a statement signed by President of the Association, Nduka Obaigbena, NPAN expressed worry that the EFCC, which is creation of an Act of the National Assembly, was carrying on as though it is above the law, given its latest action.

The NPAN said: “It is our considered view that the EFCC, being a state institution and a creation of the law, cannot be above the law.”
It stated that based on The Sun allegation that the EFCC’s action was connected to a report it carried, the proper thing the anti-graft agency ought to have done was to file a libel suit against the paper and not to resort to self-help.

It said: “The editors of The Sun Newspapers said the EFCC officials were there on a vengeance and intimidation mission to settle scores on several stories published by the newspaper, including the alleged ownership of certain properties by the wife of the EFCC acting chairman for which the acting chairman had threatened libel lawsuits.

“Instead of lawsuits, the EFCC operatives raided the newspaper offices to revive a 10-year old interim order of forfeiture that is already before an appellate court.”

The Association, therefore, implored the Federal Government to stop what it described as the excesses of the EFCC, adding that the action was unconstitutional and futile.

Chairman of the Lagos council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Deji Elumoye, also condemned the EFCC invasion of The Sun.

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