An Abuja High Court on Wednesday ordered an Ibadan-based publisher of The Extra Newspapers, to pay the former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Kalu, N10 million damages.
Delivering judgment in the suit, the Chief Judge of FCT, Justice Lawal Gummi, held that the headline was libelous.
“The libelous words in their ordinary meaning translates to that he (Kalu) was a kidnapper who does not merit the respect he had earned as a former governor, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Progressives Peoples Alliance and a former presidential candidate.
“`The publication was false, mischievous and malicious to the character of Kalu,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria quoted Gummi as saying in his verdict.
He further held that the newspaper carried the information about Kalu with intent to hurt and tarnish his reputation.
The judge said the newspaper acted in a “reckless manner” and did nothing to balance its story.
He expressed disgust at the attitude of the newspaper and those joined in the suit, for not appearing in court to defend themselves.
“It was clear from the onset that the defendants had no interest in entering appearance in the matter since the suit came up on January 2, 2011.
“The court needs no further proof in determining this matter. From all the exhibits and statement of claims, I deliver my judgment in favour of the plaintiff,’’ the judge stated.
He noted that the damage to be awarded was at the discretion of the court, especially with the position of the plaintiff in the community.
NAN reports that Kalu filed a libel suit against the newspaper claiming N5 billion as damages for the publication the media house carried on its front page on October 10, 2010.