The chairman of the Editorial Board of The Nation Newspapers, Sam Omatseye, has sued The Sun Publishing Limited for libel.
In a statement of claim filed at an Ikeja High Court, Mr. Omatseye, who is also a columnist with The Nation, accused The Sun Publishing Limited, the publishers of the Daily Sun and New Telegraph, of printing an article intended to undermine and malign the goodwill he enjoys.
The Daily Sun had run an article ‘Call Omatseye to Order, Kalu tells Tinubu….Says The Nation embarrassment to journalism’ on October 13th detailing Orji Kalu’s angst against Mr. Omatseye over the latter’s used of “foul language” in his weekly column.
The New Telegraph published the same article on the same day.
Mr. Kalu, the owner of The Sun Publishing Limited, was reacting to Mr. Omatseye’s criticism of his paper for an earlier report claiming that the federal government had put Bola Tinubu under security watch.
Mr. Tinubu owns Vintage Press Limited, publisher of The Nation Newspapers.
“We wonder how a supposedly seasoned writer and editorial board chair could not distinguish between propaganda and purely professional reportage in his pecuniary bohemianism,” Mr. Kalu was quoted as saying in the article.
“This is indeed unprofessionalism demonstrated by rascally Omatseye. It is utterly embarrassing and provocative that Omatseye could allow himself to be led by the nose by the government specious rebuttal of The Sun story.
“The fact that government debunked the story does not make it fictitious. Is vicious Omatseye saying that no government has denied stories published by his medium?
“We sympathize with brazen Omatseye on grounds of his not being a trained journalist or even a news reporter so as to understand the distinction between news reporting and poetry, which incapacitates his knowledge of the rudiments of the calling which all Mass Communication sophomores know.
“It is also unfortunate that since Omatseye returned from America and was rehabilitated by a few past and present governors, he has turned himself to a rabid defence dog for his new benefactors.”
Mr. Omatseye said that the words used to qualify him in the article were understood to mean charlatan, impostor and fake personality as well as a dubious person whose stock in trade is sycophancy and dishonesty.
“The claimant (Mr. Omatseye) avers that the libelous publication by the defendant was widely circulated and read by millions of people in the world and particularly in Nigeria where the claimant has several associates, friends, family and professional colleagues,” Mr. Omatseye stated in the court document.
“The defamatory words were published in a sensational manner and the defendant knows or ought to have known that the allegations were untrue and totally unfounded.”
Mr. Omatseye sought a declaration from the court that the publication by the two newspapers is libelous and an order for N1 billion as damages.
He also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining The Sun Publishing Limited from publishing libelous or injurious words against him.
“The claimant avers that he has suffered tremendous damage to his reputation and if the defendant is not restrained, it will further publish injurious articles against the claimant.”