Billionaire international lawyer, politician and a philanthropist, Hon. Ned Nwoko has demanded a retraction of a story written against him by an online media, Premium Times that he is a land grabber and demanded a payment of N10 Billion as compensation by the media house.
This was contained in a letter addressed to the Managing Director of Premium Times by his lawyers, Rolls Law Firm, dated May 17, 2021 and signed by Onyeka Nwokolo Esq.
The letter is entitled; “Demand For Retraction of the Libellous Publication In Your Online News Media, Premium Times Against Hon. Ned Nwoko And An Apology In Two National Dailies And Payment Of Damages For The Publication Of the Libel.”
It was stated in the letter that “our attention has been drawn by several people, including members of his family, friends, business associates and co-politicians amongst other well-meaning Nigerians to series of your false publications in your news media, where you maliciously with intent to bring our client to contempt and ridicule him in the eyes of the public published false, untrue and concocted stories about him.”
It was added in the letter that in one of such publications dated 8th December, 2020 and captioned “How Ex-Lawmaker, Ned Nwoko Grabbed Community’s Land, Dislodged Poor Farmers” Premium Times maliciously and falsely stated that Ned Nwoko, a billionaire former lawmaker from Delta State grabbed four acres of farmland of a Ninety year-old Oghedi Ogodi, which she inherited from her husband as her only means of sustenance.
They stated that it was further said in the publication that their investigation into the allegations against the lawmaker has now revealed that Mr. Nwoko did not only bully individual landowners in order to take over their properties, he also hoodwinked the community before acquiring the land for STAR University.
The lawyers further alleged that in a story entitled; “How Massive Land Grab By Ex-Lawmaker, Ned Nwoko Ignited Fatal Violence In Delta Community” they stated that Ned Nwoko’s land grab has led to violence, kingship tussle and human rights violations in Idumuje-Ugboko in Delta State.
“Your references to our client as a land grabber, who will not stop at nothing in order to takeover people’s land gravely profiled him as an invader. The false allegations implies that our client is an extorter, a dishonest, fraudulent and a person of questionable character in the eyes of respectable people in the society.
“Our client unequivocally denies all the allegations you made against him in the said publications and other publications by you on same subject, which the constraint of space cannot be contained herein, all of which were intended to drag his integrity to the mud.
“On the contrary, our client followed laid down processes in the acquisition of lands in Idumuje-Ugboko. Your malicious publications were deliberately orchestrated to inflict indelible scares on the reputation of our client as easily verifiable facts were advertently ignored by you to foster your quest to destroy as illustrated hereof,” the letter read.
The lawyers added in the letter that the claim that the late king’s signature in the letter approving the allocation of land was forged has been investigated and authenticated by experts.
They added that those who peddled the false allegation were charged for false information.
According to them, the LGA Chairman affirmed that he confered with the late king and confirmed that he signed the letter before they proceeded with formalising and allocation.
They stated that the Advisor to the Delta State Governor on Peace and Reconciliation, one Chief Uzor confirmed the late king’s signature.
The lawyers emphasized that their client is a well-respected person in Idumuje-Ugboko Village, Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta State and everywhere, both within and outside the shores of the country.
They said that he was a member of the Federal House of Representatives, a senatorial aspirant, a multiple honorary doctorate awardee, an astute politician, an international lawyer, a business mogul, and a philanthropist.
“He is a social reformer, who has the interest of his people at heart and always attracts developmental projects to his people.
“Our client is renowned worldwide for leading the crusade and fight to eradicate malaria. And as such he has a substantial social-media presence and following.
“The publications you made were read by the public within and outside Nigeria and it has cost our client his reputation as well -meaning Nigerians are beginning to look at our client with contempt and disdain and he is being ridiculed and openly embarrassed as a land grabber and extortionist.
“His involvement in proposed businesses and several other activities are met with sudden cold shoulder and silent rebuff since after your false and malicious publication. They believed your false story and think our client is a dishonest person,” they said in the letter.
They then demanded that Premium Times publish in two national newspapers as well as in their online news media statements retracting the earlier “Libellous Publications of 8th and 12th December, 2020 with an unreserved apology.”
The media house was also ordered to pay a sum of N10,000,000,000 (Ten Billion Naira) only to “our client as compensation for the malicious, false and disparaging publications.”
They said that the letter should be taken as a pre-action notice to them peradventure they choose not to heed to the demands.