BY ISAAC OLAMIKAN
Taiwo Akerele, the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has dragged The Guardian Newspapers before a Benin High court for libel on alleged “general and/or exemplary or aggravated damages.”
Kehinde, a legal practitioner and the twin brother of the Chief of Staff, filled the case on his behalf. It relates to a report which the newspaper published earlier in the year with the title “Probe of Alleged diversion of relief materials begins in Edo”.
It will be recalled that at the time of the report, which was published by many other local and national dailies, 4, 781 bags of rice out of the 6,822 ostensibly approved for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp at Uhogwa in Ovia North East Local Government Area of the state by the Federal Government was reported missing and this generated controversy.
But in its response, the state government insisted that it didn’t divert any of the bags of rice.
That all the bags of rice and other items like shoes, apart from the ones that were damaged in storage before they were allocated, were distributed to the Internally Displaced Persons camp and other orphanage homes within the state.
“The allegation is laughable and completely false and is a design of detractors to smear the image of a performing government,” the government stressed.
However, in his four paragraph claims before the court, Akerele is asking for an order for the newspaper to pay him N250million as general and/or exemplary or aggravated damages for libel and another N2.5million as costs.
In addition, Akerele is asking the court for an order so that the newspaper and one other, can publish a ” well- worded retracted and apology in a similarly conspicuous manner”.