A Magistrate Court sitting in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital has sentenced two journalists to five months imprisonment or pay a fine of 100,000 each.
The duo was sentenced on a two-count charge of conspiracy and defamation of character based on a petition filed by Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industries Limited, Amberi Village.
The duo are Gidado Shuaib and Alfred Oluyemi, the Editor and Correspondent of News Digest, an online news medium.
Senior Magistrate A.S Muhammed stated that the ruling on the case with file number MCIA/674C/2019 was in connection with his reflection on the provisions of Criminal Justice Law (2018), as well as section 417(2)d of the Kwara State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2018.
It was reported that the company wrote a petition to the Commissioner of Police, Kwara State over an alleged libelous publication tagged ‘Kwara Factory where Indian hemp smoking is legalized’ published on the 26th of March 2018 by the two defendants.
The publication was described as malicious and character assassination aimed at denting the reputation of the company.
The Kwara State Police Command, through sergeant Ayodele, the police officer attached to the State Criminal Investigation and intelligence department (CIID) upon investigation, prosecuted the duo owing to their acknowledgment and admissibility of the publication with no substantial evidence.
The Technical Assistant to the MD/CEO of the company, Fernandez Raheem said on Thursday that the company is not interested to witch hunt, harass or intimidate any person, or group of persons but to clear the name of the company so that it does not engage in illegal dealings.
He added that the court on the 7th of February 2023, sentenced the duo.
He said, “This is not to witch hunt, harass or intimidate any person, group of persons or entity.
“It was borne out of the desire to correct the malicious damage the said publication has created, and for the sake of emphasis that Hillcrest does not, and will never engage in any Illegal venture, now, or in the nearest future.”
But, the counsel to the two journalists, Ibraheem Gambari when contacted on Thursday, added that the duo has the right to appeal the judgment.
He added that he has been studying the judgment.
He said, “The young journalists have the right of appeal and efforts are on top gear towards exercising that constitutional right.
“We are studying the judgment right now and will do the needful soonest.
“But for the delay in obtaining the Certified True Copy of the Judgement due to some administrative bottlenecks in the court’s registry, the notice of appeal would have been filed by now. Our clients have robust confidence in the merit of the appeal. Especially when you consider two fundamental and unassailable points.”
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