The management of Breaking Times, an online newspaper, has announced that it is slamming a N2 billion defamation lawsuit against Hadiza Bala Usman, the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Ms. Usman had on Friday 28th April, 2017 filed a N1 billion suit against Breaking Times at an Abuja High Court for allegedly defaming her in a report titled, How El-Rufai and Hadiza Usman bribed APC Chieftains with $25,000 each to make him Vice President”.
But in a statement issued on Saturday, April 29, 2017, Anthony Ehilebo, the publisher of the online platform, said that at no point in time did Breaking Times publish the said defamatory report.
The Trent had earlier reported that Ms. Usman’s lawsuit is targeted at the wrong platform, a mistake which draws question to her presence of mind and motivations for making Breaking Times a target.
“News of the defamation suit therefore comes as not only shocking but deeply embarrassing as the management of Breaking Times has been inundated with calls from friends, family members, business partners and associates as well as numerous clients who are now disengaging from doing business with Breaking Times,” the newspaper said.
The full statement which was emailed to The Trent said.
“The attention of the publisher and management of Breaking Times Communications Ltd, owners of BREAKING TIMES (TheBreakingTimes.com) – a leading Nigerian online newspaper has been drawn to a report by The Guardian newspaper of Saturday April 29, 2017 with the headline “NPA boss slams journalist with N1 billion libel suit”.
“According to the report, “The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman has filed a suit at Federal High Court Abuja seeking for justice against the alleged false publications in an online media, and claiming N1 billion for damages. Usman, who was in court yesterday for the suit filed against Prince Henry Nwazuruahu Shield and thebreakingtimes.com for defamation of character. Usman picked exception to the report published on 22nd March 2017 titled: “How El-Rufai and Hadiza Usman bribed APC Chieftains with $25,000 each to make him Vice President”.
“Suffice it to say, that at no point in time did BREAKING TIMES publish the said defamatory report. News of the defamation suit therefore comes as not only shocking but deeply embarrassing as the management of BREAKING TIMES has been inundated with calls from friends, family members, business partners and associates as well as numerous clients who are now disengaging from doing business with BREAKING TIMES.
“Considering that the said defamatory report was published by TheBreakingPostNG – a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT online media organization and a fact that is supported by tweets issued from the official Twitter account of Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman as well as published reports where TheBreakingPostNG reportedly apologized and retracted the report shows clearly that this was a calculated and mischievous attempt with the intent to defame and damage the brand – BREAKING TIMES.
“Also, considering the position of Ms. Usman as a senior and active member of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), it lends credence to the argument that this was an attempt to destroy the credibility of BREAKING TIMES for its perceived efforts as a rallying point for opposition voices under a democratically elected government where the concept of free press is now a mirage and the freedom of speech for all citizens is no longer guaranteed.
“The official Twitter handle of BREAKING TIMES – @BTBreakingTimes is VERIFIED by Twitter; making it easy to be differentiated from other brands.
“How is it possible that Ms. Usman with her status as the chief executive of a top-ranking Nigerian government agency as the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) cannot differentiate between BREAKING TIMES and TheBreakingPostNG save for the malicious attempt to label our brand as a purveyor of fake, unprofessional and defamatory news content?
“Why was it convenient for Ms. Usman to admit in her tweets that she was defamed by TheBreakingPostNG only to switch to BREAKING TIMES at the point she decided to engage her lawyers to file a N1 billion lawsuit for defamation?
“Is Ms. Usman aware of the irreparable damage she has done to our years of painstaking hard work and professionalism as an online news medium?
“Let it be clear that the Management of Breaking Times Communications Ltd will not be subdued into silence by the subversive manipulation and ongoing crackdown on the media by government agencies, their officials and other state actors.
“In the light of this and as a deterrent to those who are always hasty to intimidate, harass and drag journalists and their media organisations to court over reports they consider unfavorable to them, the Management of Breaking Times Communications Ltd is proceeding to court to seek redress for what it considers an injurious infraction on its rights as a legal entity.
“We are suing Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman for defamation to the tune of N2 billion. This is a first step in our efforts to begin the reparation of this malicious damage inflicted on BREAKING TIMES – a media house whose only crime is speaking truth to power.”
For: Breaking Times Communications Ltd