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N5bn defamation suit: I will tender my certificate in evidence, Dino Melaye tells Court
Resolute to show that
he was presented a Bachelors Degree by the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the embattled
Senator Dino Melaye, on Thursday, March 23, swore to tender his certificate
before a High Court in the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Maitama.

Senator Melaye, representing Kogi West in the Senate, said
he is ready to tender his certificates during hearing of a N5billion defamation
suit he banged against an online media outift, Sahara Reporters, which suspected
that the senator never graduated from the Geography Department of ABU, Zaria.
In the lawsuit filed through his lawyer, Mark Ikongbeh, the
senator, maintained that he indeed obtained a B.Sc. in Geography from the Academia.
Melaye told the court that the certificate outrage has opened
him to great psychological and emotional pain, saying he has been abandoned by
his associates and friends due to the libellous publication by the defendants.
Referred to as 1st to 4th defendants in the lawsuit marked
M/4812/17, were, the Incorporated Trustees of Sahara Reporters Media
Foundation, Sahara Reporters Media Group Inc, Omoyele Sowore and Temitope
Olumuyide.
Aside asking the court to award him N5billion as aggravate
and exemplary compensations for defamation, the plaintiff also applied for an order
restraining the defendants, by themselves or by their servants or agents, from
making further publications on the subject.
Melaye equally seek N10million as charge for the legal
action. In the declaration of claim, the plaintiff told the court that a great figure
of his constituents, associates, friends, foreign acquaintances have felt so deceived
and let down by conducts, cruelly and insincerely alleged against him by the respondents,
to an level that they have ostracised him and have currently given him a wide mooring.
The Senator said:
“Many invitations to honourable events have been withdrawn and attempts to
reach out to several people who had very cordial relations with the plaintiff
has been met with a cold shoulder.

“The plaintiff has
suffered great psychological stress and emotional trauma by reason of the defamatory
publications arising from the loss of company he has suffered from friends and
associates.

“This precarious
psychology state has been exacerbated by the number of people whom the
plaintiff has had to reach out to or who have reached out to him for explanation
and reassurance of the truth in the situation.

“The plaintiff has
greatly been weighed down emotionally by the sudden loss of huge public
goodwill which he enjoyed prior to the publication of the defamatory
publication.

“Further, the
defendants published the defamatory words out of malevolence and spite towards
the plaintiff and with a view to cower the plaintiff into soft pedalling on his
stance in several issues ongoing in the Senate chambers.”

He declare in a
15-paragraphed affidavit that was personally deposed by the complainant:

“That I am a Senator
of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing Kogi West Senatorial District
of Kogi State and I was once the honourable member of the House of
Representatives representing the Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency. Amongst
other duties; I currently serve as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the
FCT.

“The 1st defendant is
an organisation setup under Part C of the companies and Allied Matters Act as a
non-profit organisation ostensibly dedicated to promoting a brand of
investigative journalism pioneered by the 4th defendant. The 1st defendant is
the Nigerian arm of the 4th defendant. The 1st defendant by its official
filings at the Corporate Affairs Commission is based in Lagos.

“The 2nd and 3rd
defendants are the Trustees of the 1st defendant and also the promoters of the
4th defendant. They are self-styled investigative journalists who are not
visibly known to be accredited by or affiliated to any registered media outfit.

“They operate under the
popular ‘Sahara Reporters’ brand. The 2nd and 3rd defendants operate all over
Nigeria but have listed addresses located in Lagos in their corporate filings.

“The 4th defendant is
a business Corporation organised under the laws of New York State in the United
States of America and is the proprietor of a website and other online channels
through which it disseminates news items predominantly about governance issues
in Nigeria.

“The 2nd defendant is
listed as the Chief Executive Officer of the 4th defendant. That the 4th
defendant is based in New York, United States of America but is represented in
the country by the 2nd defendant who is also its alter ego and service of court
process on the 2nd defendant will definitely bring the suit to the 4th defendant’s
attention.

“On the 19th and 20th
March 2017, the defendants falsely and maliciously wrote, posted, and published
or caused to be written on their verified Twitter handle identified as
@SaharaReporters hosted online at the web address of and concerning me by
directly mentioning and linking it to my Twitter handle identified as
@dino_melaye hosted online at the web address ; the following words:

“FLASH: University
teachers at the Geography Department of Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria 
insists that @dino_melaye did not graduate, bribed his HOD/1 (posted at 4:09
PM- 19th March 2017.

“FLASH: University
teachers at the Geography Dept of ABU, Zaria insists that @dino_melaye never
graduated, DG DSS informed but covered it up. (posted at 4:11 PM- 19th March
2017.

“FLASH: At least 3
Exam Officers at ABU, Zaria insists that @dino_melaye never graduated from
Geography Dept, DG DSS alerted but covered it up (posted at 4:14PM – 19th March
2017).

“FLASH: Exam Officers
at ABU, Zaria insists that @dino_melaye never graduated from Geography Dept,
they said Dino’s name was not on graduation list (posted at 4:16 PM -19th March
2017).”
Dino said the virtual media outlet equally posted that his
HOD, Prof. David Okoro Ogbonna, helped him to falsify his transcript and that
he applied for a Post Graduate class at UNIJOS, went to ABU for transcript and not
any could be provided.
He said: “By the said
words in their natural and ordinary meaning, the defendants meant and were
understood to mean: That I am dishonest and have deceived the public about the
state of my academic qualifications.

“That my academic
credentials are shady and questionable. That I am guilty of bribery and
corruption. That I have corruptly influenced investigation against me.

“That I am guilty of
forgery. That I am guilty of corruptly influencing public officers in the
performance of their duties. That my educational qualifications are false and
fake.

“That I am guilty of
the criminal conduct of collusion and falsification of official records. That I
am unworthy of the credit and trust of the society. That I am unworthy to hold
the office of the Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The above publication
received instant widespread publicity both within and outside Nigeria as the
defendants website and their electronic channels enjoy huge popularity
globally.

“The verified twitter
handle of the defendants @saharaReporters has over 1, 390, 000 followers to 
whom the publication was immediate made available upon publication”.

“The greatest impact
of this publication is here in Abuja”. According to him, “The result of the
publication of the defamatory words by the defendants has been devastating to
my image and has greatly injured my credit and reputation and brought me into
public scandal, odium and contempt.”
In his statement of assertion, Melaye also told the court
that the defendants, “propagate a style
of unconventional and unregulated journalism which they term “advocacy
journalism” that encourages.


“citizen journalist” (essentially untrained and
unregulated individuals) to report news items which are not subject to
verification before publication.

“The plaintiff is a
graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, where he bagged a B. Sc in
Geography. The Plaintiff’s certificates are pleaded.

“The plaintiff at all
times material to this suit is a highly visible politician who is well known
through the length and breadth of Nigeria and globally. He ranks high amongst
the most well-known public office holders currently in Nigeria having served in
several capacities over the years.

“The plaintiff has
particularly become a beacon and a model to the youths of the world due to the
roots of his political life which begun with his active participation in
student union affairs at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.

“By dint of selfless
stewardship, the plaintiff successfully transformed from a youth leader into a
National leader in Nigeria reputed for frankness, forthrightness and principled
leadership.”

However, the lawsuit is yet to be allotted to any judge for trial.

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