A multimillion dollar libel suit against news website, SaharaReporters, has been withdrawn, its publishers said.
The long-drawn case, brought before a New York state court, was filed by a US-based Nigerian pastor following a 2010 report by SaharaReporters alleging fraudulent act perpetrated by Nigerian ambassador to the United Nations, Joy Ogwu, and other mission staff in the handling of the mission’s renovation projects.
The reports cited a petition alleging that a company named St. Cyprian, was Ms. Ogwu’s front for the renovation contracts, and that the group received illegal proceeds from the job to the tune of $675,000.
SaharaReporters said it found documents identifying Deeper Life pastor, Eric Abakporo, as the president of the company, an allegation Mr.
Abakporo denied, he sued and asked for compensation in the sum of $30 million.
The claim turned dramatic in May when the US department of justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York state Attorney General announced Mr. Abakporo’s arrest in connection with another real estate
fraud- another accusation SaharaReporters had reported alongside the Nigeria mission contract.
Mr. Abakporo and an alleged accomplice, Latanya Pierce, now face one count charge each, of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, as well as one substantive count of bank and wire fraud.
Faced with the new charges, Mr. Abakporo announced his decision to stand down the libel suit in May, citing his lawyers’ advise – that a continuation will “risk his constitutional rights in the criminal fraud charges.”
The online company insists Mr. Abakporo was St. Cyprian’s president, pointing out that the pastor had failed to name the real president if he were not.
“As plausible as that excuse might sound, one wonders whether that is the whole story behind Mr. Abakporo’s capitulation,” SaharaReporters said.