The Publisher of Online Newspaper, Premium Times, Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, as well as the judiciary correspondent of the paper Evelyn Okakwu were on Thursday arrested by police officers over allegations of defamation of character and libellous story published against the Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) Lt Gen TY Buratai.
The Police, it was gathered acted on a warrant of arrest issued against the Newspaper by a Wuse 2 Magistrate Court Thursday evening as to enable the police carry out a thorough investigation into the matter.
The arrest is coming on the heels of a petition written by Osuagwu Ugochukwu Esq, attorney to Lt Gen TY Buratai, to the FCT police commissioner, decrying a “false and malicious story” written by Premium Times against his client and the refusal of the Newspaper to retract the story
Our reporter gathered that the Court order for the arrest was issued at the FCT Chief Magistrate Court Wuse Zone 2, Abuja earlier Thursday afternoon.
It would also be recalled that the Nigerian Army had also written to Premium Times, urging the Newspaper to withdraw a report where it Lt Gen Buratai is being investigated by Code of Conduct Bureau, a story which was later confirmed to be false but the media outfit refused to do so.
In the petition, Buratai’s attorney had complained that the PREMIUM TIMES informed the public that his Client, Lt Gen Buratai is being investigated by Code of Conduct Bureau.
According to him, this story received wide publication and readership, adding that it created bad image for his Client and caused Military men on the field to get worried about their Boss even when the said story was false and fabricated.
Read full text of petition:
January 18 2017
The COMMISSIONER of POLICE FCT
FCT POLICE COMMAND
AREA 10 GARKI
PETITION AGAINST EVELYN OKAKWU AND EDITORS OF PREMIUM TIMES ONLINE NEWSPAPERS OVER INJURIOUS FALSEHOOD AND CRIMINAL DEFAMATION ON THE PERSON OF LT.GENERAL T.Y.BURATAI( CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF)
We are Solicitors to LT.GEN. T.Y.BURATAI, CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF and write you as per his instructions.
By a December 12 2016 publication by PREMIUMTIMES penned by EVELYN OKAKWU with the title “Bureau to investigate Army Chief Buratai for alleged false asset declaration” the PREMIUM TIMES informed the public that Our Client is being investigated by Code of Conduct Bureau. This story received wide publication and readership. In fact it created bad image for Our Client and caused Military men on the field to get worried about their Boss even when the said story was false and fabricated.
It may interest you to know that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had since absolved the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai of any infraction of the laws over the declaration of Dubai Flat.
The CCB through a letter dated July 11, 2016 with Reference CCB/HQ/671/G/1/6 and signed by Mrs. Ijeanuli Arinze Ofor on behalf of the CCB chairman emphatically stated that LT.Gen.T.Y.BURATAI never contravened the CCB Act.
Also by a letter dated 29TH SEPTEMBER, 2016 signed by the Chairman of CCB LT.Gen.T.Y.Buratai and Fourteen other public officers had submitted themselves for verification of assets and were found to be clean. The CCB thus ended investigation on assets of these officers and that of LT.Gen.T.Y.Buratai on September 29 2016 and issued them certificates of completion.
This Firm had on December 13 2016 reached out to the management of CCB and they have denied ever contradicting themselves on the assets issue of Our Client and that they stand on their September 29 2016 letter.
Sir, it is clear that the PREMIUM TIMES publication of December 12 2016 was done to incite the public against Our Client, tarnish his reputation and subject him to public ridicule. This is a case of injurious Falsehood and Criminal Defamation.
We urge you to invoke the relevant sections of the PENAL CODE to apprehend the said EVELYN OKAKWU and MANAGEMENT OF PREMIUMTIMES SERVICES LTD with a view to prosecuting them before the Abuja Courts.
Awaiting your kind prompt action Sir.
OSUAGWU Ugochukwu ESQ
Principal Attorney and Human Rights ADVOCATE