Lamorde Slams N1bn libel suit against Punch

Ibrahim Lamorde, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has sued Punch newspaper for libel, demanding damages in excess of N1 billion. 

Through his lawyer, Festus Keyamo, the EFCC boss said he was suing the newspaper for its recently-published report: ‘Alleged N1tn diversion: FG orders EFCC to probe Larmode’. Describing the report published on October 27 as “false and untrue”, Keyamo said the publication dented the reputation of the plaintiff.

 “The fraud allegedly perpetrated by Larmode was said to have dated back to his days as the director of operations of the EFCC between 2003 and 2007 as well as when he acted as chairman of the commission between June 2007 and May 2008, when the then EFCC boss, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, was away for a course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos,” Keyamo said.

 Lamrode’s lawyer said the words, in “their natural and ordinary meaning”, were understood to mean that: “The plaintiff is a fraudulent and corrupt civil servant who engages in diversion of monies belonging to the government. “The plaintiff is a bad and corrupt leader who encourages his operatives to collect bribes from suspects.

 “The plaintiff is a hypocrite whose fraudulent activities date back to 2003 when he was director of operations of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.” Continuing, he said: “The plaintiff 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 plaintiff has several associates, friends, family and professional colleagues.”

 He held that the defendants did not conduct any investigation into the truth of the allegations before publishing them and did not offer the plaintiff any opportunity to respond to the allegations. 

The plaintiff averred that he has suffered tremendous damage to his reputation and if the defendant is not restrained, it will further publish injurious articles against him. 

Apart from the monetary compensation, Lamorde also demanded that Punch should tender a retraction and an unreserved apology. He also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the newspaper, its agents, privies or servants from further publishing or causing to be published any libelous, injurious or defamatory words against him. 

The Cable
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