Nigeria’s former finance Minister, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been awarded N200m by an Abuja High Court in a libel case against an online news platform, Pointblanknews.
Pointblanknews had published the false story, OKONJO-IWEALA BUYS N1.2 BILLION ABUJA MANSION on January 10, 2012, alleging that Okonjo-Iweala had purchased “a massive home in Maitama, located at No 3 Nwaora Street, Off, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja, for a whopping N1.2 billion”.
“The Coordinating minister’s mansion, is a 7 bedrooms duplex with boys quarters and a swimming pool, a massive Masters Bedroom with an adjacent bedroom dubbed “Madam’s Bedroom. The mansion, which is still unfurnished, could wear a tag of over N2 billion after furnishing. It has a red clay roof. The property is complete with top shelf marble imported from Italy, gold trimmings and chandeliers in the living rooms, bedrooms and a very expansive kitchen”, the report stated.
They also accused the former minister of “pocketing $2 billion (two billion dollars) in commission in the last debt buy-back deal under the presidency of the Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration”.
The story was subsequently proved to be a complete fabrication as Mr Fabian Nwaora, the owner of the property who was identified in the report came out to say that not only had Dr Okonjo-Iweala not bought any property from him, the building in question was still up for sale.
The court imposed general damages in the sum of N50,000,000 (Fifty Million Naira) and Exemplary damages in the sum of N150,000,000 (One hundred and fifty million Naira) against the Defendants jointly and severally.
The judgment by Justice Chizoba N. Oji in suit No. FCT/HC/CV/2602/12 also included an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants – the platform and its founders Jackson Ude and Churchill Umoren – from defaming Dr Okonjo-Iweala in the future.
The platform was mostly absent in court throughout the duration of the case which went through two judges.