Bode George has no reputation – Court

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chief Bode George

There seems to be no end to disappointments for the convicted former Chairman of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) Board, Chief Bode George, as he lost a N2.5billion libel case he filed against some media houses.

George had instituted a libel suit against Independent Network Communications, Publishers The News magazine and PM News along with Corporate Ventures Nigeria Limited, owners of Daily Independent newspaper.

Justice Akeem Oshodi of the Lagos High Court, sitting in Badagry, while delivering his judgment, on Wednesday, dismissed the suit on the ground that a man cannot claim damages for a reputation he does not possess.

According to Oshodi, since Bode George had earlier been convicted by a Lagos High Court judge on the same facts on which he claimed that his reputation was damaged, it would be inappropriate to grant him damages on those facts.
“The court notes through the submission of the defendant that claimant had been convicted and sentence to two years without an option of fine on the same facts which he alleged libel. A man cannot lay claim to a reputation that he never had. And as such this case fails in its entirety,” the court held.

The court noted that all the witnesses called by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain could not adequately prove to the court that he was libeled by the media reports brought before the court as evidence.
The court concurred to the prayer of the defence counsel, Femi Falana, had argued that the newspapers were justified in their reported since the same report was further confirmed by a Lagos High Court that convicted the claimant on the report complained of in the libel suit.
Falana had contended that the claimant had no reputation whatsoever to protect in the court. Consequently, the trial judge dismissed the suit as prayed by the defendants without awarding any cost.

In his final submission, George’s lawyer, Bambo Adesanya (SAN) argued that the judgment which convicted him was not relevant to the libel suit as it did not exist as at the time the case was instituted. Justice Oshodi, however, disregarded his argument.
The court held that George was only trying to deceive the court by claiming that he was not under any probe by the EFCC or any panel of inquiry.

Bode George had gone to court after  The News magazine, in its April 18, 2005 edition, published a cover story, entitled “Anti Corruption War: N85 billion Scam at The Ports. Bode George’s Board Indicted.”

Consequent upon the report, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, according to The NEWS story, set up a contract review panel headed by Engineer Mustapha Bukar from the office of the Head of Service of the Federation. The members included: Greg Ogbeifun of Starz Investment Company; A.A. Lawal of Tata Industries Kano; Chief John Damshakai of the office of the Plateau State Governor; Nella Ewa, a Calabar-based lawyer; B.F. Oyelowo of the Auditor-General of the Federation’s office, Abuja and; G.O. Ezezika of the Ministry of Transport, Abuja .

Obasanjo mandated the committee to review all contracts awarded at NPA between 2001 and 2003 and determine “exactly how much was expended, with dates, exactly how much was paid out on each contract, the outstanding amounts and works not executed but for which monies were paid.” Bukar and his men were also asked to find out whether the board followed correct procedures in the award of the projects.

When the committee submitted its report, it discovered that George’s board awarded 29,586 contracts, valued at N85 billion. The committee also reported contract-splitting and inflation of costs.


0 Feedback:

Site Meter