A High Court in Kaduna State has ordered Today Publishing Company, publishers of The Union newspaper, to tender an apology and pay N10 million for defaming Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
The Special Adviser to the Governor, Muyiwa Adekeye in a statement on Tuesday said “in July 2015, less than two months into his tenure as governor of Kaduna State, The Union published a false story on his asset declaration.
“The reporter who filed the story based his outlandish claims on nothing more than rumour and a sense of impunity, an expectation that victims of defamation would resort to negotiation with and reward those who seek to besmirch their reputation.
According to the statement, Governor El-rufai swiftly issued a statement to debunk the story the very day it was published and affirmed his intention to approach the court for redress.
Justice M.L. Muhammed delivered judgment in the case on Monday, 1 November 2021, six years after the case was filed.
Malam El-Rufai welcomes the judgment of the court as a clear statement that the freedom to publish is not a license to defame people or clothe rumour-mongering and malice as journalism.
“Beyond the damages awarded and the apology ordered by the court, this judgment reaffirms the primacy of facts and appropriate verification in responsible journalism.
“Malam El-Rufai will be donating the N10m damages awarded by the court to the Kaduna State Disability Trust Fund.
“By approaching the court and personally testifying in the case, Malam El-Rufai has demonstrated his belief in the rule of law, a stance he has taken in previous cases, securing apologies and retractions from other newspapers for libel.
“This informs his continued pursuit of other instances of defamation in the courts,” the statement said.