An order of a Kwara State High Court which blocked bank accounts linked to an online media platform, Sahara Reporters, about four months ago has been criticised by a coalition of media and Civil Society Organisations, CSOs.
The group, Coalition for Press Freedom and Whistleblower Protection (CPFWP) made their position known in a joint statement signed by 15 of its members on Wednesday.
It further condemned delays in the judicial process to reverse the order.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, instituted the case in Ilorin, where he ruled for eight years as governor, accusing Sahara Reporters of publishing defamatory content against his personality.
The four stories at issue, which included news and opinion contents, were published between September and December 2015, court filings published by Vanguard Newspapers showed.
In a Suit No. KWS / 23 / 2017, the court had awarded N4 billion against the publisher, Omoyele Sowore, and his medium, SaharaReporters, who were the defendants/respondents in cases of libel brought before it.
Consequently, a judge, Adeyinka Oyinloye, had issued an order to the United Bank for Africa, UBA and Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB, bankers of Mr. Sowore and Sahara Reporters, to seize all funds held in a string of accounts associated with the defendants.
The judge also said Sahara Reporters and Mr. Sowore must pay 10 per cent (N400 million) interest on the N4 billion monthly until both the principal damages and accrued interests are finally cleared.
Mr. Sowore had later approached the high court presided by Mr. Oyinloye through Falana and Falana Chambers to set aside its judgement.
At the resumed hearing on September 14, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that journalists were attacked, including other supporters of the online medium.
The groups in the statement condemned the development warning judicial officers to exercise restraint in pronouncing judgments in libel cases.
The coalition expressed worry that every attempt by Sahara Reporters to legally redress the N4 billion judgment awarded against it had been frustrated.
“We are also concerned about the abuse of the judicial process which has led to the freezing of the bank accounts of Sahara Reporters Media Foundation, a completely different legal entity from Sahara Reporters, which has not been accused of any offence, is not a party to any judicial proceedings and against which there is no pending judgment debt or court order,” it said.
“It has been four months since the judgement has been given against Sahara Reporters Media Group (New York) and four months since the account of Sahara Reporters Media Foundation (Nigeria) has been unjustly frozen.
“We are concerned that efforts to move the matter forward has been met with a series of adjournment which now seems more like a delay tactic to ensure that the work of Sahara Reporters Media Foundation is stalled.
“While we recognise the right of Mr. Saraki or any aggrieved party to sue a news medium, the turn of events in this particular issue suggest a twist that is more than meet the eye.
“We condemn any attempt to muscle and intimidate the press through direct or indirect means, as in this case. Any redress sought against any perceived adverse media content should be done within the natural ambit of the law. Media is not above the law and it should also not be muscled through any extra-legal means.
“We call on relevant judicial bodies to closely monitor this case and investigate the contentious judgment and the resultant garnishee order.”
Latest Nigeria News
- Chioma Ajunwa: 5 Quick Facts About Nigeria’s Olympic Gold Medalist
- Tom Anderson: Fast Facts And Net Worth Of Myspace Founder
- Top 5 Christmas Movies Of All Times And Their Synopsis
- Top 10 Countries Where Women Are In Short Supply
- MMM For Money Money Money: All The Lessons We Should Have Learnt
- Google Play’s Best Of 2017: What Ruled This Year?
- Stop Libyan Slave Trade: Five Ideas On Halting The Sale Of Africans
- Funny Christmas Quotes To Keep You Company For The Next 30 Days
- This Is How Giving Makes You Rich- Quotes & Facts
- Margaret Kenyatta: Everything You Need To Know About Kenya’s First Lady
- Danish Government Apology: Healing The Wounds Of Ghana Slave Trade
- Katie Pavlich Measurements, Married, Husband, Bio, Height, Instagram
- Thieves On The Chest
- Black Face complains: ''2face owes me money, and he won't pay back''
- Steady rise in prostitution despite ban in Abuja
- Mercy Johnson And Tonto Dike In A War Of Words
- Video Of Nigerian Lawmakers In A Bloody Fight
- Miss Unizik Nude Photos Leaked By Ex-Boyfriend
- Big Boy: Ice Prince Wears Same Givenchy Shirt As P Diddy To BET Awards
- Shameful - Iyanya Tattooed Yvonne Nelson's Name On His Wrist
- 2 Unilag Students Dead, 3 Others Almost Dead After Fatal Car Accident [Photos]
- Omotola Poses For THISDAY Style Photoshoot
- Hot or Not? - Genevieve's Dress To Ebony Life TV Launch
- Celestial Church Prophet Owolere Odunuga Jailed In Kirikiri Over Visa Fraud
- ASUU Embarks on a Total and Indefinite Nation-wide Strike from 1st July
- Super Eagles’ Handler: Keshi or foreign coach?
- 11 Burnt To Death In Ibadan Auto Accident
- Former Nollywood Actress Eucharia Anunobi In Senegal For 7-Day Crusade
- Stephanie Okereke-Linus Bags Africa Women Awards
- Federal Government bans civil servants from taking chieftaincy titles
- Omotola's Waka-Pass Role On American National TV Show
- £3,000 visa bond: Federal Government warns British govt
- First Bank Nigeria Plc Security man breaks ATM, steals N12m
- John Olumba, 31-Year Old Nigerian Running For Detroit Mayor
- Whats up with this picture?
- Why President Barack Obama Is Not Visiting Nigeria
- Most Overexposed Celebrities In Nigeria
- Wizkid Tells Unilag Students: ‘I don’t do cheap money’
- Islamic cleric Rapes Teenager During Deliverance
- Is This A Case Of "Bad" Underwear?