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Corruption allegation: Minister files N1bn defamation suit against Kafilat Ogbara, Arise TV

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Corruption allegation: Minister files N1bn defamation suit against Kafilat Ogbara, Arise TV

Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, has filed a N1bn defamation of character lawsuit against Kafilat Ogbara, a member of the house of representatives, and Arise Television.

Ogbara, chairman of the house committee on women affairs and social development, had while speaking in an interview with Arise Television on June 5, claimed that there are “many petitions” against Kennedy-Ohanenye and that the lower chamber is investigating the minister.

The minister had been invited to appear before the house committee on public procurement and the panel on Women Affairs and Social Development.

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Reacting to Ogbara’s remarks, the minister denied the allegations, saying she is not under investigation over allegations of fund misappropriation.

In a suit filed on June 14 at the High Court in Enugu, Ogbara and Arise Television were listed as first and second defendants, respectively.

Through Chuma Oguejifor, her lawyer, Kennedy-Ohanenye argued that the lawmaker’s comments were “offensive” and “poisoned” the hearts of people who know the minister.

Oguejifor said the minister reached out to the lawmaker over her comment and informed her that it was false.

The counsel said the lawmaker refused to apologise or retract her comments.

“The 1st Defendant who had been invited to a program hosted by the 2nd defendant which took place on or about 3/6/2024 and 5/6/2024 had while answering questions thrown to her by a staff of the aforesaid 2nd defendant, spoken of and concerning the plaintiff among others, the following words i.e. to say “I think the minister Bar. Uju Ken-Ohanenye is being investigated already by the committee on public procurement. Our own committee is also inviting her for fraud based on several petitions written against her. The House Committee on Women’s affairs is waiting for her to appear before us. They were using different analogies, different names for the same purpose at the Ministry of Women Affairs. Their records show misappropriation of funds, we noticed these when we visited her Ministry last to carry out our oversight functions,” the court document reads.

“The above words which were spoken of the plaintiff by the 1st defendant who had also mentioned the plaintiff by name were however recorded and reduced to a permanent form, the plaintiff found a copy thereof at the trial and gives the 2nd defendant notice to produce the original at the trial.

“That millions of Nigerians listen to the 2nd Defendant’s broadcasts and programmes, in fact the offensive publication was given such wide publicity that several persons including persons living in Enugu where the plaintiff is widely known and had grown up had listened to and heard the publication.

“Their hearts were poisoned by the publication which is false so much so that they now view the plaintiff with odium, contempt and ridicule.

“The plaintiff had reached out to the defendants and spoken to them about how the publication was as offensive as it was false but till date they have not apologized to the plaintiff nor retracted the defamatory publication.

“In these circumstances where the defendants have been remorseless about the publication which as earlier on stated above, exposed the plaintiff to great odium and ridicule especially before right thinking members of the society including her friends, associates, her lawyers, relations, etc., the plaintiff is left with no option in the circumstances than to file the present suit against the defendants for defamation of character.

“Wherefore the plaintiff claims against the defendants jointly and severally damages amounting to 1 billion naira for libel or defamation of her character.”

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