Akwa Ibom Gov’t Brings Criminal Charges Against Newspaper Editor For Defamation

Akwa Ibom Gov’t Brings Criminal Charges Against Newspaper Editor For Defamation

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Governor Godswill Akpabio

The Akwa Ibom state government has sued the editor of Global Concord, Thomas Thomas for defamatory publications in the Uyo-based newspaper.

Thomas was on Thursday, July 3, 2014 arraigned before a Magistrate Court sitting in Uyo, the states capital.

The editor of the newspaper, which is known for its critical views on the Akwa Ibom State government, is facing a three-count charge of using his medium to commit acts purportedly contravening the Akwa Ibom State Internal Security and Enforcement Law 2009.

The chairman of the paper’s Editorial Board, Unyime Equere, speaking to pressmen said Thomas was secretly abducted by four armed men on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 and arraigned  on Thursday without the knowledge of the management of Global Concord.

Equere said they were neither served any notice nor allowed any legal representation for the editor.

The commissioner for information and communication, Aniekan Umanah, has denied allegations by the management of Global Concord saying that the newspaper was properly served the charges before Thomas was arraigned in court on Thursday.

Umanah blamed the situation on the media house, which he said does not have any known official address.

“Global Concord does not have any office anywhere in the state. It does not even have any address that information could be dropped for them. When the State Security Service could not trace their office location anywhere, they resorted to using their own mechanism to serve them the court charges,” he explained.

The commissioner, however, did not comment on the mechanism used in reaching out to the media house.

The charges against Thomas were contained in a one-page Charge sheet No. 1/U/389C 2014 signed by the State Director of Public Prosecution, Usen Usen. The case is between Mr. Thomas as the accused and the State (Akwa Ibom) as Complainant.

The charges read:

“That you, Thomas Thomas (M), by series of publications in the Global Concord Newspaper between August 2013 – June, 2014 did make yourself an object of dread and nuisance, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 6(1)(e) and (f) and punishable under Section 6(2) of the Akwa Ibom State Internal Security and Enforcement Law 2009.”

“That you, Thomas Thomas (M), by series of publications in the Global Concord Newspapers between August, 2013 – June, 2014 organized a system of intimidation and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 6(1)(d) and punishable under Section 6(2) of the Akwa Ibom State Internal Security and Enforcement Law 2009.”

“That you, Thomas Thomas (M), did cause extreme fear to the persons of Edidem Umoette and Edidem Ime Udousoro Inyang, Paramount Rulers of Etinan and Ibiono Ibom Local Government areas respectively by presenting to them a purported recorded message of intention by His Excellency, Godswill Obot Akpabio, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State to murder them and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 6(1)(a) and punishable under Section 6(2) of the Akwa Ibom State Internal Security and Enforcement Law 2009.”

See a copy of the charge below:

Suit between Akwa Ibom State Government and Thomas Thomas.
Suit between Akwa Ibom State Government and Thomas Thomas.

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