The founder of Daar Communications PLC, Raymond Dokpesi, has filed separate charges against the federal government for including his name on a list of alleged looters of its treasury.
In a suit dated April 30 and filed at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Mr Dokpesi is asking the Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, as well as his counterpart in the justice ministry, Abubakar Malami, to pay N5 billion as damages for alleged defamation of his character.
Mr Dokpesi is also demanding a refund of N50 million which he described as the cost of instituting the charges.
In a similar motion, Mr Dokpesi asked the court to issue an order enforcing his fundamental rights, allegedly abused by the defendants.
Following the publication of the list of alleged looters of government’s treasury, where Mr Dokpesi was accused of embezzling N2.1 billion, his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, wrote a pre-litigation letter seeking a retraction of the publication and threatening a law suit if his demands were not heeded.
The list released in two batches by the federal government contained a number of politically-exposed persons accused of embezzling public funds. Most of those in both lists were members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Although Mr Dokpesi is facing trial for alleged diversion of N2.1 billion, the Daar Communications Chairman has denied any involvement in the crime.
In the defamation suit, Mr Dokpesi cited quotes from a press briefing organised by the information ministry wherein a reference was made to his ongoing trial, stressing that the briefing was solely intended to discredit his personality.
He accused the defendants in the suit of causing him trauma and loss of trust among well-meaning Nigerians.
Mr Dokpesi also asked the court to stop the defendants from further publishing anything relating to the alleged defamatory remarks mentioned in the suit.
In the fundamental rights suit also dated April 30, Mr Dokpesi is asking the court to determine if the remarks related to him during the press briefing by Mr Mohammed did not amount to an abuse of his fundamental rights, as enshrined in sections 36 (5) of the Constitution; a violation of the provisions of section 133 (4), (5) and (9) of the Criminal Code Act, as well as section 155 of the penal code laws of the federation, 2004.
Mr Dokpesi is also asking the court to determine whether Mr Mohammed had the legal authority to pronounce him (Dokpesi) a public looter, without an order of court, to that effect.
He wants the court to issue an order nullifying the media publications where the said remarks were made.