How Saraki fraudulently obtained court order freezing Sahara Reporters account – Sowore

Omoyele Sowore
Omoyele Sowore

The publisher of the online medium, Sahara Reporters, has vowed to challenge an order of a Kwara State High Court which blocked bank accounts linked to him last month.

Omoyele Sowore said the July 25 garnishee order in Ilorin, the state capital, was “fraudulently procured” by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, as part of an ongoing libel suit against him and his platform.

A judge, Adeyinka Oyinloye, had issued the order to the United Bank for Africa, UBA and Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB, bankers of Mr. Sowore and Sahara Reporters, instructing them to immediately seize all funds held in a string of accounts associated with the defendants.

The development has been condemned by media rights advocates, who warned judicial officers to exercise restraint in pronouncing judgments in libel cases.

Mr. Oyinloye’s order came nearly a month after he also awarded Mr. Saraki up to N4 billion in damages on June 28.

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. Saraki instituted the case in Ilorin, his hometown where he is considered the most powerful political personality, 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.

Although the Vanguard quoted Mr. Saraki’s lawyers as alleging that Mr. Sowore frustrated all efforts to serve court summons on him, the publisher contradicted the claim in an exchange with PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday.

He explained that Mr. Saraki’s lawyers and associates ‘conspired’ to send court papers to wrong addresses both in Nigeria and United States in order to deprive him of a chance to defend himself before the judge.

“They sent their notice to 142 W. 29th Street, New York, when for a fact Sahara Reporters’ address is situated at 146 W. 29th Street, New York,” Mr. Sowore told PREMIUM TIMES.

“So, you can see they deliberately sent it to the wrong address so we won’t be aware of the lawsuit,” he added.

In Lagos, where Sahara Reporters opened a multimedia facility on Isaac John Street in May 25, Mr. Saraki’s lawyers also sent the notice to the wrong street number, Mr. Sowore said.

The publisher said when he heard that a court process that involved him was going on in Ilorin, he informed his lawyers in Lagos to obtain documents relating to the case.

“But while they were trying to get the June 28 judgement and other relating documents, the garnishee order was issued,” he said.

Mr. Sowore condemned Mr. Saraki’s tactics but said Sahara Reporters’ activities have not been ‘seriously impeded by the development.’

“They blocked only funds in the bank accounts in Nigeria. But our activities have always been run from the United States,” the publisher said

The money blocked in Nigeria belongs to Sahara Reporters Media Lab which is a foundation, Mr. Sowore added.

He said that the media lab was never part of the libel action as ‘it didn’t even exist as at the time the case was instituted.’

“But Saraki used his intrigues and influence over the State Security Service to get the Media Lab account frozen,” Mr. Sowore said.

Specifically, the account was holding the remaining portion the $300,000 grant which Sahara Reporters Foundation received from MacArthur Foundation earlier this year, Mr. Sowore told PREMIUM TIMES.

“We’ve done a lot of projects from the $300,000 so far paid to us by the MacArthur Foundation. The rest of the money is what the court blocked,” the publisher said.

Lanre Arogundade, Director at International Press Centre in Lagos, criticised the judgement as hasty, lopsided and draconian.

“The judiciary needs a lot of caution in entering judgement against the media. This is because we’re looking at the issue of possible libel or defamation which is often used to suppress the media,” he said.

He said the N4 billion judgement against Sahara Reporters was largely aimed at bankrupting the platform than serving justice to the plaintiff.

“When you award a damage of N4 billion, you have gone beyond getting justice for whoever was offended to wreck the organisation,” he said.

He said Mr. Saraki got the judgement because of his status as a highly-placed public official.

“If not because it was Saraki that went to court, the judgement might have been different, especially for an ordinary man,” Mr. Arogundade said.

“It was an overkill,” he added.

Mr. Arogundade observed that the Constitution vested the powers to monitor the activities of public officials in the press, but added that such authorities do not necessarily shield media practitioners from being diligent in the course of their duty.

“We’re not saying journalists should not be fair, reliable and responsible in their activities, but any attempt to make them become fearful will not be tolerated,” he said.

Mr. Arogundade said Sahara Reporters Foundation should not have been targeted by the court as it was not a party to the lawsuit.

Mr. Saraki’s spokesperson, Yusuf Olaniyonu, declined to issue comments on the allegations to PREMIUM TIMES despite repeated efforts by this newspaper between Tuesday andWednesday.

The Senate President was quoted online as saying he would donate all damages awarded to him from the lawsuit to support some media houses in financial distress across the country.


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  • Emeka

    Saraki is a born rogue!

    • Holy truth

      Dat is an understatement, he is everything dat is wrong. He is a serial thief, killer & a soulless lawbreaker.

  • AFRICANER

    The press must not be intimidated!

    However, I find that, in the USA, if a letter is addressed wrongly to a building a block away, the letter makes it to the right address, especially for a known outfit such as Sahara Reporters.

    I also commend Saraki for fighting back legally, instead of violently. Or worse.

    Saraki had been under siege by Sahara Reporters, unfairly. Saraki is not a saint, I understand that.

  • Daniel

    Serves Sowore right.

    His pay for play journalism has to stop.

    He engages in blackmail.

    • Comfortkay

      Man keep quite, Mr Sowore is holding American Passport and if Sarakis think that they can pin him down it is a lie and anythiong our Agbero politician do to hurt him they will dearly pay for it.

      • Daniel

        May he remain in America forever.

        Besides, if found guilty of any crime ,the Interpol can pick him up.

        We now live in a border less world.

  • Opekete

    Saraki!!! I still dey laugh.

  • Patrick Otobo

    This will serve as a deterent to merchant of fake news, junk journalism who are out to defame people unfairly. Musikilu Mojeed and Premium Times, your own is coming!!!

  • shasha

    Sowore, you have right to appeal the judgment instead of running from one media house to another complaining. Two days ago the same story was published in Vanguard newspaper, today premium times may be tomorrow the nation newspapers. Do the right thing by filing an appeal instead of looking for sympathy,that is what is expected of a smart guy.

  • FirecloudOFGOD

    Saraki, be careful, be very careful.

    You are starting to harass ordinary people, throwing your weight around unnecessarily. If you know to what extent you represent the face of resolute corruption in this country and how your likes have ruined this country, you will call in your boys, especially the judges under your control; to take it easy.

    Nigerians have had enough of you Senators’ pranks I am personally ready to contribute financially to Sowore to ensure that justice prevails! Your recent attempt at renouncing your immoral Pension draws from the account of poor Kwara State was a step in the right direction. This present action is 10 steps backward!

    Never forget that SR is the face of the greatest thing that has happened to media in Nigeria in the last 10 years.

  • Remi

    It is axiomatic that, in Kwara State, Saraki is the Executive,
    the Legislature and the Judiciary. Thus, the entire “Court Judgement”, coming from
    a Kwara State Court is dubious, to say the least of it. I can bet that it was
    Saraki, or his Lawyers, who wrote that “judgement”,
    hence it’s punitiveness.

    How come that a Court-shy
    Saraki who was busy arguing technicalities at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, instead
    of addressing the substantive
    accusations against him, suddenly found Court-courage in this matter and “swiftly” and “stoutly”
    defended his “reputation?

    • Riposte

      @oluremiolu:disqus

      “In Nigeria, the pauperized many have sent a memo to the criminally-rich few:
      ‘We will not allow you to enjoy your ill-gotten gains in peace. We will hound you
      and pursue you everywhere you go. When you buy your Hummers,
      we will snatch them.

      When you send your children to expensive schools, we will kidnap them.
      When you retreat to your billion-naira homes, you will have to sleep with
      one eye open. With every knock, you will panic and tremble, fearing it
      could be nemesis at the door’.

      ………………..Femi Aribisala

      [August 27, 2013]

  • Sophomore Law Student

    @disqus_i0qQlWlslZ:disqus;

    Bukola Saraki vs. Sahara Reporters

    I was not aware of this until i read this story here on Premium Times. I don’t know why SaharaReporters
    did not report it since i only get my own news online. I am about to lose faith in the Nigerian judiciary,
    but before i lose faith do let me ask only one question: “Who is Judge, Adeyinka Oyinloye of the
    Kwara State High school and where did he study his own law
    ?”

    I know why i am asking this very critical and
    important question, not just to be told if he is a qualified judge of a high court, but more importantly
    to know which law book he read with any understanding of the principle of DEFAULT JUDGMENT
    whenever a defendant is resident outside Nigeria.

    Judge, Adeyinka Oyinloye looks to me as if he just threw recklessly himself at the
    pillars of jurisprudence and brought down the whole edifice without think through any
    of the established principles applying to service of summons on any defendant overseas.
    I do not believe this was a mistake. That is why i am asking to be told where the Judge –
    Adeyinka Oyinloye – studied his own law. It is after that i will lose faith in Nigeria totally.

    • shasha

      Tell Sowore to appeal the judgment not to be looking for sympathy. It is his (Sowore) story premium published until we hear from Saraki’s lawyers. Appeal his what is required not Sympathy stories.

      • Sophomore Law Student

        @disqus_i0qQlWlslZ:disqus

        What we are witnessing could be the beginning of the end of Bukola Saraki who lives in glass house
        and now throws stones. I am sorry for him. He’s declared a war he has no reasoning ability to fight.
        He will be smoked out of his hiding place; spread-eagle in public domain, stripped anus facing up.
        Bukola Saraki mis-advised himself to rush to court and impede freedom of speech in the media.
        No one ever does such silly nonsense in the public domain and gets away with it inside Nigeria.
        Bukola Saraki will be so blackened in weeks ahead he will not recognize himself in a mirror.

    • Remi

      Sophomore…

      You do not need all these analysis. It is a truism that you
      cannot try a King in his own Court. Saraki is the “King of Kwara”, and that Court could never have delivered
      any judgement that was different from
      the one it delivered. I can bet my last
      Naira that Judge Oyinloye did not write that “judgement”; it was most probably
      written for him by a Saraki loyalist in: the Ministry of Justice, the Judiciary
      or by Saraki’s own Lawyers.

      And, just like you, I have also been wondering why Sahara Reporters
      had not been reporting the developments in this case. I can only hope that it
      is not a case of yellow journalism. Whatever their reasons for not reporting
      the developments in this case may be, it does not portray Sahara Reporters in
      good light, especially for a news media which prides itself as a beacon of
      objective journalism.

  • Shehu Monguno

    Dino Melaye will be laughing

    • kungfufighting

      @shehumonguno:disqus

      BUKOLA SARAKI HAS A LOT TO HIDE AND HE’s TAKEN HIS BATTLE TO NIGERIAN MEDIA FOR
      EXPOSING HIS SERIES OF FINANCIAL MISDEEDS – INCLUDING THE MULTI-MILLION HE HID
      INSIDE SECRET ACCOUNTS IN PANAMA. IT IS now FOR THE WHOLE MEDIA TO COME
      TOGETHER AND MAKE SURE THEY BRING BUKOLA SARAKI TO JUSTICE FOR HIS
      EXPOSED ECONOMIC CRIMES AGAINST ALL THE GOOD PEOPLE OF NIGERIA.

    • Remi

      Actually , instead of “laughing”, Senator Dino Melaye is well advised to proceed forthwith, and with haste,
      to Kwara State to file his own suit against Sahara Reporters. For, in Kwara State, “quality and expeditious justice”, “success”,
      “satisfaction” and “bountiful reaping” are guaranteed!

  • Arogbo

    Sowore should file a counter claim against Saraki in Nigeria, UK, USA and anywhere Saraki owns properties and holdings.

    l

    • 180° degrees

      @Arogbo:disqus

      OMOYELE SOWORE IS A FAR MORE EVOLVED HUMAN BEING COMPARED TO THAT KLEPTOMANIAC
      WHO STRUTS AND DESECRATES PARLIAMENT WITH BAD ODOURS OF A SMELLY THIEF ON PAROLE.

      • Naija News

        @Arogbo:disqus

        “Toyin Ojora-Saraki, the wife of the president of the Nigerian Senate, is a business front
        for her husband Bukola Saraki. According to documents retrieved from the Mossack Fonseca
        database (in Panama) the assets in her name in tax havens are held in trust for Bukola (Saraki),
        Nigeria’s third ranked official.

        Landfield International Developments –
        a company registered in the British Virgin Islands on April 8, 2014 – had Toyin Ojora-Saraki
        as sole shareholder. But it is apparent that she was a front, because Bukola Saraki has since
        discreetly taken over the company using Longmeadow Holdings, another shell company
        registered in Jersey.

        To effect the take-over, a board
        meeting of Landfield was purportedly held on January 28 2015, where it was agreed that the
        company be sold to Bukola Saraki for more than £3-million. That same day, Toyin Ojora-Saraki
        wrote to Mossack Fonseca (in Panama) informing it that she was transferring the beneficial
        ownership of Landfield to Bukola Saraki and his company.”

        …………..Mail & Guardian

        [April 22nd, 2016]

    • absam777

      The guy is very crafty. Most of his investments are owned by companies owned by him. He will eventually be caught .

  • chiibyejindu

    BUKOLA SARAKI OPPRESSING THE PRESS JOURNALISM, NGOs, & HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

    The world of justice, liberty, and human rights especially the United States of America and Great Britain will not just fold their hands and standby while watching the diehard dangerous game of survival of the nascent press freedom we have painfully achieved in Nigeria die completely in the bloody hands of the wicked and very corrupt ruling class concentrated in Nigeria National Assembly led by a confirmed pro-corruption President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr. Bukola Saraki and his gang of rustlers Dino Melaye et al, and equal emeritus the Speaker of the House of Representatives Alhj. Yakubu Dogara leading the squad of the House.
    No need reminding our friends of the descent world, the hook and crook manner the leadership of the Nigeria 8th Assembly stormed into power and have since then made their bed with corruption in the art of legislature, corrupting what remained of the civil and public services, and turning the art of legislation for the nation into self-serve to meet the need of their greed. In so doing, the Senators and Reps. have gone forth and legalize what used to be corruption so as to practice corruption without qualms. Every stumbling block on their way to free practice of corruption and stealing is bulldozed as they have colluding hands in the opposition party PDP with very strong propaganda machine and connectivity all over the world, including ability to lay hands on enormous illicit funds they stole from our treasuries for a period of 16yrs of scorch earth looting of the nation under PDP. Responsible public servants who refuse to play ball by standing on their way to looting and stealing are tainted, intimidated and bulldozed from office with ease except, the case of Ibrahim Magu of EFCC and recently Rtd. Col. Hammid Alli of the Customs and Exercise where the press, NGOs, Human Rights, have risen in unison to say enough is enough. Ant this is the angle where the case of Mr. Olowore Soweye the publisher of Sahara Reporters is rooted.

    As you can confirm, Sahara Reporters and the person of Sowere stand our only enriching source of insight and good knowledge of Nigerian politically criminal class whose common focus and actions is directed to how to loot, steal, and corrupt the system of governance to always facilitate this objective of amassing wealth primitively. As a result of this serious challenge by Sowere and Sahara Reporters, especially being the pillar that holds us the press, NGOs, Human Rights, together, Bukola Saraki as the head of the corrupt assemblies have decided with his collaborators and the cabals in leadership to get even with Sowere and Sahara Reporters thus, these frivolous legalities by Bukola Saraki who is now so powerful in Nigeria that he can commit any crime and go free. Bukola Saraki has positioned and re-positioned himself in Nigeria and beyond that he has command over Nigeria very corrupt judiciary as you know also that Nigeria legislature is also in Bukola’s pocket. The judiciary in Nigeria is for sale and very affordable for financially powerful Bukola Saraki. Without the help of the outside world of liberty, Bukola Saraki the head of Nigeria corrupt Senate and his gang of economic warriors and treasury looters will not only destroy our works but liberty and civilization in Nigeria.
    It will be evil for U.S, U.K, and free world to keep looking the other way and allow Bukola Saraki to destroy the good works of Sowere and Sahara Reporters in fighting corruption and maintaining true democracy in Nigeria, not corruption of Bukola Saraki and the corrupt sick legislators. After Sowore is silenced by paying and purchasing judgements then, Nigeria press as a whole is silenced and that is when you will know that Bukola Saraki has bigger plans to send Nigeria to dark age draconian governance. Already, Yakubu Dogara the Speaker of the House of Assembly in consonance with Saraki has seen the Immunity Bill ford looters passed 2nd reading on the floor of the House of Representatives. The frivolous bill has been doctored to more dangerous degree against journalists and NGOs, and human rights. SERAP is already carrying tears to the United Nations about the new law by the Senate to dictate and modulate the activities of the NGOs, human rights, etc.
    All you hear about the amendment of the Constitution is empowering the Senate and House of Representatives to be more powerful even than the President of the Federation.
    We call on our friends and lovers of a democratized Nigeria with free press to fight the endemic corruption to rise with one voice and denounce Bukola Saraki to lay his hands off Sowere, NGOs, and Human Rights.

  • The Scribe

    @chiibyejindu:disqus

    Yes, Bukola Saraki may be lying and taking what does not belong to him without the owner’s consent,

    but that does not make him a thief. Bukola Saraki may look like a thief and smell like a thief, he is not

    a thief. He may be living above his means, yes, but that doesn’t make him a thief. Appearance is not

    reality. If Saraki looks like a thief it doesn’t mean that he’s a real thief. I am saying this for the sake of

    terminological exactitude as a graduate of English Literature with specialization in irony.

    • absam777

      Say it loud. Saraki is a thief.

      • jamajake

        Simple as ABC,

  • princegab

    Saraki is on the final trip down the drain. Amd it sound like some judges will go down with him. What a country ,what impunity????

    • Peacenik234

      @princegab:disqus

      See, can’t guys just discuss Bukola Saraki without adding the word THIEF or
      STEALING to the discussion? Was he born to steal? Is there nothing else about
      him that’s worth discussing? Even if he is a dullard without any single idea,
      why not discuss his father who was not so much better, to be honest, but at
      least less annoying to public senses? To me I don’t think it is possible for
      somebody to wake up at 5.00am and start thinking of what to steal from then
      till midnight. That’s the impression Nigerians have of Bukola Saraki, maybe
      because newspapers published that he deposited money 50 times in one day into
      his private GTB bank account. But even then is there nothing else to his life
      other than that – how about sports, does he play football or cricket or something
      like that? I just want to ask Nigerians to consider discussing other aspects
      too. There’s more to a thief than stealing, please!

      • princegab

        He was brought up a spoilt child , grew up a money monger , theifry runs in his DNA . Saraki is that provabal Apple and its tree. Treachery a thing of his dynasty and nothing good would ever come out of that power monger. The god of the poor masses of kwara state shall avenge his looting.

      • absam777

        Saraki is a thief. Period.

  • @Kazkanye

    First i’m not a “Sarakite” and i will never be, partly because i know how ‘The Sarakis’ have plundered the resources of my home state since 2003 to date. However; I’m feeling a measure of vindication right now because truth still matters in journalism. We all know Saraki is a thieve, but when a publisher leave the facts and start reporting on fictions, it is disheartening. I was number one fan of Sahara-reporters until they lost their purpose.

    Sahara-reporters are a blackmail journalist! Simple as ABC! If you look at the payroll of Nigeria money bags, most of these rogue journalists features on them. This case will obviously serve as a lesson to them that you cannot eat your cake and have it.

    Same goes for our Snr lawyers, judges and media houses! They should only serve the public, not paymasters.

    Another good news is that, Nigerians should feel comforted that if someone publishes something that affects their reputation, and it’s untrue, they have options if the publisher refuses to address the situation by way of apology and retract the statement.

  • George

    Foundation they used to cover up few days ago this animal sowore said he has just 2000k today he is talking of $300k from Mcauthur that yeye OBJ said he gave him money too.

    Sowore you never seen anything yet.

    • jamajake

      So you are supporting criminal like Saraki or freedom of speech?

  • koonlay

    I’m not a die hard supporter of Sahara Reporters, but knowing the damages the Saraki dynasty has inflinched on the people of Kwara, especially while he was the state governor, will not for once make me think twice of criticizing him a hundred times before I criticising Sahara Reporters twice! Saraki is just everything associated with fraud. Afterall his assention to the position of Senate President was also mared with fraud.

  • absam777

    The so-called Nigerian 3rd citizen is still playing like a local champion. Why Ilorin and not Abuja? Once a crook always a crook

    • jamajake

      You don’t know that Saraki owns Kwara state