Austin Tam-George, a former Rivers State commissioner for information and communication, has taken legal action against the publishers of ThisDay Newspapers for attributing a statement to him, which he said he never made.
In a report titled “Wike and the Trouble Within” published by ThisDay on Sunday, July 9, 2017, Dr. Tam-George was quoted as having said: “[Governor Nyesom] Wike does not have any good dream for Rivers State. commissioners serving under Governor Wike can no longer pay the school fees of their wards, Governor Wike is running a one-man-show government and I’ve decided not to be part of such government again.”
But in a letter to ThisDay, through his lawyers, Adegboruwa and Co., a prominent law firm in Lagos, the former commissioner said the statement was a malicious and deliberate fabrication intended to damage his reputation. Tam-George demanded an immediate retraction and apology from the newspaper.
The former commissioner, who was once an Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellow, and lecturer at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, is also demanding N500 million in damages from the newspaper.
The letter sent to ThisDay by Ebun-Olu Adebgoruwa, Dr Tam-George’s lawyer, says that “the said malicious and libelous publication, despite several clarifications availed your company, was with an already made-up agenda, deliberately published and circulated by your company with the full knowledge and awareness of its consequences and implications on the feeling, integrity, character, business, career, and reputation of our client.”
The letter seeks immediate retraction and apology to be published in 3 national dailies, and the payment of 500 million naira in damages to the former commissioner.
On Thursday, June 23, 2017, Dr. Tam-George, resigned from the government.
“I wish to resign my appointment as Commissioner for Information and Communication with effect from today, June 23, 2017,” his brief resignation letter to Governor Nyesom Wike, which was obtained by The Trent on Friday.
“I have handed over officially to the director of administration of the ministry.”
“Thank you for the opportunity to serve the state,” he added.