An Abuja magistrate court has handed down a six-month jail sentence to lawyer Augustine Addeh of Mokidi and Co., after finding him guilty of publishing defamatory content against Dangote Cement Plc.
The conviction came as a result of an advert Addeh caused to be published in the Nation Newspapers on November 6, 2015.
In the advert, he falsely alleged that Dangote Cement was responsible for the armed invasion of Okpella Community on October 30, 2015.
The damaging advert also sought to prevent the company’s enlistment on the London Stock Exchange and other global stock markets. Addeh’s publication implied that Dangote Cement instigated the blocking of the Okpella-Benin road by terrorists, leading to violence and the death of an innocent person.
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The legal proceedings were initiated following a petition by Ahmed Hashem, the Representative of Dangote Cement, to the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
The originator of the defamatory publication was subsequently arrested and arraigned in an Abuja magistrate court.
After careful consideration, Magistrate Muhammaed Omeiza Tahir delivered judgment on August 10, 2023, finding the accused guilty of criminal conspiracy, defamation, and intimidation, punishable under the penal code.
Tahir ruled that the prosecution had established its case against the sponsor of the libelous publication.
The magistrate emphasized that the investigation had revealed the publication to be false, malicious, and damaging to Dangote Cement Plc.
He concluded that the elements of defamation had been proven by the prosecution, leading to the six-month prison sentence.
Additionally, the convict is required to issue a public apology in national newspapers within two weeks of the ruling. Failure to comply will result in a three-month jail term without an option of a fine.
In response to the verdict, the Dangote Group, represented by Mr. Anthony Chiejina, the Group Chief Branding and Corporate Communication Officer, reaffirmed the company’s strong relationship with its host communities in Nigeria.
The group stated its commitment to nurturing and cherishing this bond, emphasizing its dedication to ethical and responsible business practices.