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National Orthopedic Hospital Staff Drags Sahara Reporters, Standard Observers To Court, demands N200m damages, retraction


The President of National Orthopedic Hospital Enugu (NOHE) Staff Co-Operative Thrift and Loan Society Nigeria limited, Engr. Philip Ugwuonah, has dragged two online media platforms to the Enugu State High Court for publishing libelous materials again his person.

In the suit already filed at the State High Court Enugu, the plaintiff, Ugwuonah, is demanding the some of N200 million from Sahara Reporters and Standard Observers.

Also joined in the suit which is one Mr. Ugochukwu Okoloedo who initiated the story that both media outfits published.

Mr. Okoloedo had through the publications accused Engr. Ugwuonah and the Executive of the NOHE Co-Operative Thrift and Loan Society of extortion and stealing of landed properties of a diseased staff of the co-operative society, late Chinwe Okoloedo which she purportedly paid for before her death.

Ugwuonah, however, explained that the diseased property was supposed to have been embargoed since the Okoloedo family could not meet up, in a given period, with the payment of N295, 000 required for the family to have access to the two plots of land in the Co-operative’s estate at Nkwubor-Nike in Enugu East local government area, which the late Chinwe Ololoedo bargained for.

“At the expiration of the time set by the Co-operative Society for benefitting members to clear their outstanding debts, the 1st defendant (Ugochukwu Okoloedo) refused and/or failed to comply. On 23/9/2020, ten months after the expiration date, the first defendant without consultation to any of the executives, paid in the sum of N230, 000 into the account of the Co-operative society and returned to the Co-operative society to claim that he has paid the outstanding sum owed by the late Okoloedo Chinwe,” narrated Ugwuonah in his application to the court.

He stated that the Okoledo family instead of complying with the Co-operative’s rule of clearing the outstanding amount, rather resorted to legal actions and false publications where he was labeled as a fraudster, who was poised to deny the family access to the property of the late member of the Co-operative society.

According to the plaintiff, the said publications by the defendants portrays him as a man without honour, wicked and a person whom the public should not deal with or trust with any office or responsibility.

He also claimed that he is afraid of his life and that of his family after going through the comments generated by the libelous defamatory publications on Facebook.

He further said that the defamatory publications were calculated to lower his reputation in the estimation of right thinking members of the society and discredit him in his profession and as the President of National Orthopedic Hospital Enugu Staff Co-operative Thrift & Loan Society Limited.

In his plea before the court, Ugwuonah prayed the court for a declaration that the publications made by the media organizations with his name mentioned as having collected money from the 1st defendant and his picture attached, amounted to libelous defamation on his person and deserves an apology by the three defendants.

Ugwuonah is also seeking for an order of the court “that defendants retract the said written defamatory publications of 23/3/2022 and 23/3/2022 published on the Facebook handle of Sahara Reporters and Standard Observers, respectively; an order for public apology by the defendants in favour of the plaintiff to be published in the 1st and 2nd defendants handles on Facebook and in any two other national circulating newspapers in Nigeria.

Ugwuonah also pleaded for Two Hundred million Naira (N200, 000, 000. 00), being damages against the defendants for defamation caused on his person and an order of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) for cost of litigation.

A date is yet to be fixed by the Enugu State High court for commencement of the proceedings.

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