Olusegun Rusewe
Otunba Olusegun Runsewe

A former Director, Extension Services (External Relations) of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Mr Hilary Ogbechie has sued the Director – General of National Council for Arts and Culture, Olusegun Runsewe, before an Abuja High Court, seeking N50million as general damages for alleged defamation of character.

In a statement of claim deposed recently by  Valentine Offia, Esq,  counsel to the  claimant, averred that Runsewe (Defendant), on  January 5, 2020, issued press releases/interviews which was published  to global readers by Sahara Reporters.

In the said interview, Runsenwe alleged that the clamant was the Director General of the council indicted by the 2017 audit report recently released by the Office of the Auditor–General of the Federation which red-flagged instances of financial irregularities in contract awards and payments.

Ogbechie in the claim averred that Runsewe knowing that he (ogbechie) has never been the Director– General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, falsely and maliciously claimed in the said interview that he was in charge of the NCAC at the time of the alleged financial impropriety even when he knew that the claimant had retired from public service since March 2016.

He further alleged that the Defendant, knowing that the Claimant never occupied any office involved in the award of contracts at the NCAC, falsely and maliciously claimed that the Claimant was in charge of the  Council at the time of the alleged financial impropriety.

He argued that the false statement made by the Defendant impressed on the minds of members of Nigerian and international communities that the Claimant was involved in financial scams, defrauded the public treasury and has been indicted by an audit report of the Auditor – General of the Federation of Nigeria.”

Ogbechie pointed out that the implication of the satanic allegation  was that he was unfit to be an administrator of funds and has proclivity for kleptomania.

He added that the false allegation made by the Defendant ruined his hard earned reputation amongst his social peers, business partners and international associates – a reputation which was nurtured over several decades.

He stated that the Defendant has neglected and refused to retract the offensive interview despite written requests to do so.

Ogbechie is therefore seeking an Order of the Court compelling the Defendant to pay general damages of N50,000,000 for damage done to the reputation of the Claimant by the false statement of the Defendant.

An Order of the Court compelling the Defendant to pay special damages of N2,000,000 to the Claimant being the costs of this suit, among others .

It would be recalled that the audit report had indicted the DG NCAC for malfeasance ranging from failure to explain the purchase of a car of N5.6m without approval or due process on May 3, 2017, irregularities in contract awards and payments at the agency, payment of N44.3m directly to a contractor for the construction of National Research Center in Kaduna without a payment voucher and in full before the contractor did any work, lack of approval by the Tenders Board since the said payment was above the approval limit of the Director General among others

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