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Newspaper editor detained, interrogated over alleged defamatory advertorials

(MRA/IFEX) - On 22 July 2009, Shaka Momodu, the deputy editor of "Gliterati", a pull-out from the Sunday edition of the Lagos-based private daily "This Day" newspaper, was detained by men of the Nigerian police at the Zone 2 Police Headquarters in Lagos. He is being detained for allegedly placing defamatory adverts in some Nigerian newspapers over shares manipulation allegations between two Nigerian business moguls, Femi Otedola and Alhaji Aliko Dangote. He was reportedly questioned for over six hours and is expected to be arraigned in court soon.

Momodu was initially invited to the station to answer to charges of "threat to life, conspiracy and forgery" but was detained and interrogated over the alleged defamatory adverts against Dangote who had complained that his character had been battered by the defamatory advertorial.

Meanwhile, Dangote has sued Otedola for libel over the matter. He filed the suit at an Abuja High Court against African Petroleum (AP) where Otedola is chairman, and joined Leaders & Company (publishers of "This Day" newspapers). He is claiming N2 billion (approx. US$13.4 million) in damages for alleged libelous publication against him.

Dangote claimed the advertisement titled: "The unethical manipulation of AP shares leading to a decline in value by Nova Finance and Securities and Alhaji Aliko Dangote", which AP published in "This Day" on 25 March 2009 was defamatory and offensive.

Dangote also urged the court to compel AP and "This Day" to retract the publication and the innuendos contained in it and to order them to publicly apologise to him and publish the apology in at least three national newspapers.

The suit is scheduled for hearing on 30 July 2009 by Justice Danlami Senchi.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to authorities:
- calling on Mike Okiro, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), to order his men to immediately release Shaka Momodu as the matter is already in court
- asking the Zone 2 Police Headquarters in Lagos to allow the matter to take its course legally and not re-arrest Momodu


APPEALS TO:

Mike Okiro
Inspector General of Police
Force Headquarters
Loius Edet House
Shehu Shagari Way
Area 11 Garki,
Abuja, Nigeria
Tel: +234 9 234 0633 / 0422
Fax: +234 9 234 0422
E-mail: [email protected]

Chief Michael Aondoakaa (SAN)
Hon. Attorney General and Minister for Justice
Attorney General's Chambers
Federal Secretariat Complex
10th Floor, Shehu Shagari Way
P. M. B. 192, Abuja, Nigeria
Tel: +234 9 523 5194
Fax: +234 9 523 5208

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