A former member of the House of Representatives, Prince Ned Nwoko, has written to Sahara Reporters to retract its “defamatory statement” against his person or face court action.
In a letter addressed to Sahara Reporters by Nwoko’s solicitor, Rolls Law Firm, demanded for a retraction of the libelous publication in the online news platform and also asked Sahara Reporters to publish an apology in two national dailies backed with a payment of N10bn as damages for the publication of the said libel.
The letter dated 20th December, 2021 and signed by Mr. Onyeka Nwokolo (Esq.) reads, “we are solicitors to Hon. Prince (Dr.) Ned Munir Nwoko (herein referred to as “Our Client”) and on whose behalf and instruction we write you this letter, our client’s attention has been drawn by several people including members of his family, friends, business associate and co-politicians amongst other well-meaning Nigerians to serials of your false publications in your news media where you maliciously with intent to bring our client to contempt and ridicule him in the eyes of the public published false, untrue and concocted stories about him.
“In one of such publications dated 14th August, 2020 and captioned, “How Ned Nwoko Humiliated Monarch, Asked Police To Dig Up Palace”, you maliciously and falsely stated that Ned Nwoko, a former federal lawmaker from Delta State, “Ordered the arrest of Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko, monarch of the town, and subsequently asked the police to ransack his palace”.
“Your falsely claimed in your publication that our client was induced to take the above stated action because, “the monarch and some residents of Idumuje-Ugboko had opposed Nwoko’s attempt to forcefully acquire additional 90 hectares of land from an area earmarked for all indigenes of the community”.
“Your references to our client as an unconscionable land grabber who has intimidated and cowed an entire community in order to takeover people’s lands gravely profiles him as a bully, marauder, buccaneer, pirate, Viking, and a bandit. The implication and innuendos from the false allegations are that our client abuses the privileges of God’s favours and endowment on him to oppress and extort others not equally endowed.
“It casts him as devious, manipulative, dishonest and fraudulent person of questionable character in the eyes of respectable people in the society.
“This is in stark contrast to the reality and reputation of our client as a former lawmaker, a philanthropist, accessible, easy-going and stickler for rule of law. Our client was, hitherto, widely renowned in Delta State, Nigeria and worldwide for ventilating his convictions both in politics and business by due process of the law through established conflict resolution framework and judicial process.
“Our client deliberately ignored the unprovoked slur and distraction your false publications sought to inflict on his reputation and focus on the more serious projects he has at hand. It is ironical that our client’s pacifist, disposition would appear to have reinforced your recklessness in directing more attacks against his person, business, reputation and integrity.
” Few days ago, our client’s attention was to drawn to yet another false, wicked, malicious and defamatory publication dated 15th December, 2021 by you and published in several News and Social media captioned, “EX-HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MEMBER, NED NWOKO ACCUSED OF SCAMMING AFRICAN LEADERS WITH ‘WHITE ELEPHANT PROJECTS’”, wherein you published to the world and repeated the above cited falsehood about our client intimidating an entire community and grabbing their lands by coercion.
” You went further to add new and false claims about the Paris Club Refunds and the Malaria Eradication Project being undertaken by the Ned Nwoko Foundation. Our clients’ involvement with the Paris Club Refund in Nigeria has been an open subject and public knowledge. It has been subjected to judicial scrutiny, private company review and audit by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and forensic investigation three (3) times by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In 2016, at a time no money had been paid to our client the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami in response to a claim by a whistleblower NGO, that our client has been paid about $6bUSD with the respect to the Paris Club Refund issued a stern instruction to the EFCC to conduct detailed investigation against our client. He was invited and volumes of documents and files taken away. The EFCC Investigation Report affirmed our clients’ role in the Paris Club Refunds. Two successive review investigations were further carried out by the EFCC with the same outcome. Our client was subsequently paid part of his entitlements.
” Our client unequivocally denies all the allegations you made against him in the said publications, and other publications by you on same subject which the constraint of space cannot be contained herein, all of which were intended to drag his integrity to the mud.
“On the contrary:
The said Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko was fingered in the investigation and prosecution of a case of violence and destruction of properties in Idumuje-Ugboko sometime in May 2017. A prosecution witness identified him and some others as working in concert and masterminded the mindless terror and destruction visited on Idumuje-Ugboko in 2017. A cursory investigation or verification would have revealed this fact to you;
b. with respect to acquisition of land, our client followed laid down processes in the acquisition of lands in Idumuje-Ugboko and anywhere else in Nigeria. Again, this fact could easily have been established had you spared any consideration to tell a balance story.
“Your malicious publication were deliberately orchestrated to inflict indelible scares on the reputation of our client as easily verifiable facts were advertently ignored by you to foster your quest to destroy as illustrated hereof.
“By available records, the claim that the late king’s signature on the letter approving the allocation of the land was forged has been investigated and authenticated by experts. Those who peddled the false allegation were charged for false information.
“The LGA Chairman affirmed that he conferred with the late king and confirmed that he signed the letter before they proceeded with formalizing the allocation.
“The Adviser to the Delta State Governor on Peace and Reconciliation, one Chief Uzor confirmed the late king’s signature.
A cursory investigation by you would also have revealed to you as follows:
That Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko has never been proclaimed the king of Idumuje-Ugboko by the elder (senior) members of the Nwoko Royal Family.
That Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko was not recommended to the Anioma North Traditional Rulers Committee.
That the Anioma North Traditional Rulers’ Committee recommended Crown Prince Solomon Eziokwubundu Nwoko as the Obi(king) Idumuje-Ugboko
That the Chairman Anioma Traditional Rulers’ Forum HRM Asagba (Prof.) Chike Edozien recommended Crown Prince Solomon Eziokwubundu Nwoko to the Delta State Government for presentation of Staff of Office as the Obi (king) of Idumuje-Ugboko by the Governor.
“Court judgments are public documents which are readily available at registry of every court in Nigeria. There is also the Freedom of Information Act which empowers sincere media organization seeking to publish truth to secure any public information they require. There have been several court judgements arising from the Paris Club Refunds involving our client. If you had sought information, we would have gladly supplied you the details to enable you issue an objective publication.
“Had you taken the steps in paragraph (e) above, you would have found out that the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) entered into a Terms of Settlement signed by their Chairman and the Director General, Asishana B. Okauru, with Ned Nwolo acknowledging;
“That Ned Nwolo worked for them and is entitled to be paid.
That they (NGF) shall issue a Letter of No Objection to payment to Ned Nwoko and the associated company Linas International Limited.
That in furtherance of the court Judgment, the NGF issued the Letter of No Objection to as stated above to the Federal Ministry Of Finance.
That from the records that there is no clam of $418mUSD by the NGF against Ned Nwolo or any of his associated companies
That there are several court orders In favor of Ned Nwoko with respect to the subject matter.
That the University project is gradually evolving as conceived.
You would have discovered a treasure trove of factual information contrary to the malicious and deliberate falsehood you have been publishing.
Based on the foregoing it is obvious that you deliberately and recklessly misrepresented the status of Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko to add vitriol and sensationalize your false publication to gain prominent and wide readership in order to sully our clients reputation and standing in the society.
“Our client is well-respected person in Idumuje-Ugboko, Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta State and everywhere both within and outside the shores of this country. He was a member of the Federal House of Representatives, a senatorial aspirant, a multiple Honorary doctorate awardee, an astute politician, an international lawyer, a business mogul and a Philanthropist. He is a social crusader who has the interest of his people at heart and always attract developmental project to his people. Our client is renown world-wide for leading the crusade and fight to eradicate malaria. And as such he has a substantial social-media presence and following.
“The publications you made were read by the public within and outside Nigeria and it has cost our client his reputation as well- meaning Nigerians are beginning to look at our client with contempt and disdain and he is being ridiculed and openly embarrassed as a land grabber and extortionist. His involvement in proposed businesses and several other activities are met with sudden cold shoulder and silent rebuff since after your false and malicious publication. They believed your false story and think our client is a dishonest person.
“Your repetition of these falsehoods and garnishing same with new additions on each occasion betrays a deliberate baiting of our client to a reaction and response.
“We therefore formally make the following demands fro you;
a, That you publish in two national newspapers as well as in your online News Media statement retracting the Libelous Publications of 14th August 2020 and 15th December 2021 respectively with an unreserved apology.
b, That the sum of #10,000,000,000 (Ten Billion Naira) only be paid to our clients’ compensation for the malicious, false and disparaging publications.
This letter should also be taken as a pre-action notice to you peradventure you choose not heed to our Client’s demands.