Two reporters of Leadership Newspapers, Tony Amokeodo and Chibuzor Ukaibe were on Tuesday dragged before a Federal High Court in Abuja by the Federal Government, over alleged vexatious publication.
In a 10-count amended charge against the media outfit and embattled reporters, the government alleged that they committed felony to wit: “forging of document titled Bromide of the Presidential Directive and place same on the front page of Leadership Newspaper of April 3, 2013.”
The FG alleged that the accused persons knew that the said document was false, but published same, “with the intent that it may in any way be used or acted upon as genuine and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 467 of the Criminal Code Act Cap ‘C’ 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
The court was also told that the accused persons conspired between themselves and committed felony by forging/making a false document, having on it the Seal, Signet or Sign Manual which purports that it was a presidential directive from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 516, 461 (1) (b), 467 (3) (a), 468 of the Criminal Code Act Cap ‘C’ 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Justice Adeniyi adjourned the case till April 23 to take plea of the accused persons, and sequel to an application by counsel to the accused persons, the court released them yesterday.
The case has raised controversy about how much freedom the press have in Nigeria. While some believe the government is in its right to arrest or charge the reporters, others say it is an infringement on their rights.