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Magazine faces libel suit by political leader, its director assaulted after court appearance

(MRA/IFEX) - On 30 January 2008, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, the managing director of "TheNews" magazine, was beaten by thugs believed to be working for the People's Democratic Party (PDP) after he finished giving evidence in a libel suit against his magazine at a Lagos High Court.

Chief Bode George, the South West Chairman of the ruling Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), instituted a N500 million (approx. US$4.2 million) libel suit against the publishers of the "TheNews" magazine, "PM News" newspaper, and Independent Communications Network Ltd.

The libel proceedings have attracted large crowds of people who openly profess their loyalty to the PDP each time the case has come up before the court. On this occasion, the crowd included a sizeable number of women in uniformed attire and some stern-looking young men.

Onanuga said he was about to drive out through the court's main gate when about 15 thugs gathered around him and began to shout at him, calling him "a thief". He said his car was pelted with sachets of water, sticks and stones.

He said: "I got out of the car to ask them why they were doing that, but they immediately rushed at me. One of them got to me and before I knew what was happening, he had slapped me. It was at that moment that the security at the gates shouted at me to quickly reverse the car and get into the court premises. I hurriedly got into the car and made a sharp reverse out of the court."

Onanuga, who is also the editor-in-chief of "TheNews", and the magazine's general editor, Mr. Ademola Adegbamigbe, were joined as co-defendants.

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