Borno State Government has threatened a N2Bn libel suit against the state’s recent Commissioner for Information, Mr Inuwa Bwala and National Trail, an Abuja-based newspaper published by the journalist who was sacked from the Kashim Shettima’s cabinet about three months ago.
The state government said the ex-commissioner, through his newspaper, defamed its reputation, that of its officials, attempted to unjustly incite the public against its and awake breach of public peace.
Mallam Isa Gusau, the governor’s media aide, said in a statement that: “The Government is also seeking a court injunction restraining both Inuwa Bwala and National trail either by themselves, agents , servant privies or anybody acting on their behalf, from further publishing any malicious publication against the Borno State Government, any of its establishments or its officials pending the hearing and final determination of the suit subjudice before the court among other reliefs sought by the plaintiff. The action was filed pursuant to relevant rules of Borno state high court 2014”.
The statement further revealed that a private legal firm contracted by the State Government has written to Mr. Bwala and his Newspaper, demanding an apology published on the front page of subsequent edition of National Trail which must also be aired on an International network breakfast show of the African Independent Television which aired the libelous publication in its Newspaper headlines of Monday, June 30, 2014 at about 8am and also on five national newspapers within seven days; failure of which the Government will move on with the suit against both Bwala and his newspaper for a claim of two billion naira as damages.
Gusau in the statement said: “In a letter dated July 2, 2014, addressed and dispatched last week to the two defendants, through a registered postal service, principal counsel in the legal firm, Barrister Hussaini Hala said sacking of Mr Bwala by the Borno State Government clearly influenced his paper’s bias and complete fabrication of falsehoods with highly malicious headlines, titled “Operatives trail Borno’s Looted Billions; Shettima moves to save investigation, Gov’s cronies fingered in corruption and terror financing; Alleged sex scandals, drugs rock cabinet” splashed on the front page and page 4 of National Trail weekly, edition of Monday June 30 –Sunday, July 6, 2014, Vol 002, No 0043.”
The statement said the lawyer gave Bwala and his newspaper one week to respond to his letter with publicized apology otherwise “procedures will be immediately followed to file dispatch document used in sending him the demand letter in order to proceed with litigation against him and his newspaper in a court of law so he could provide in controvertible evidence to proof the published allegations.”
The statement further revealed that: “The Government’s counsel had last week obtained a search report from the Corporate Affairs Commission which confirmed that Trail Publications Limited (publishers of the Newspapers) with registration number 99652169 and head office in Abuja; has four directors that include Bwala Inuwa, Ndahi Sanusi, Mamman Idris and Amanzah Yusuf while the company has five million share capital. Based on the report, the State Government joined Bwala as principal actor in the suit proceedings.”