Court Jails Gidado Shuaib, Alfred Olufemi over Defamation Reports

Defamation Reports against Agro- Allied Industries: Court sentences Gidado Shuaib, Alfred Olufemi to prison

A magistrate court in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara state, sentenced two people, Gidado Shuaib and Olufemi Alfred, to a N100,000.00 fine or three months in jail on charges of criminal conspiracy and defamation.

The defendants were prosecuted in court on a First Information Report dated November 2019 for criminal conspiracy and defamation in violation of sections 97 and 392 of the penal code.

Their arraignment followed a lawsuit filed against them by Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industries Limited, based at Kilometre 4, Ajase-Ipo road, Amberi village, Kwara state, in response to a News Digest story titled “Inside Kwara Factory Where Indian Hemp Is Legalized.”

According to the petitioner, the story depicted the rice-producing facility as a site where workers openly smoked Indian hemp.

The corporation (Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industries, Limited) had told the court that the article in the online magazine had caused significant financial and reputational harm to the company and the petitioner.

The petitioner informed the court that as a result of the article published in the online publication (News Digest) in June 2018, the company was denied a loan facility in the amount of $10,000,000.000 by a funding partner in the United Arab Emirates known as Arab Group, as well as a deposit sum of $250,000.00.

After almost five years of legal wrangling, magistrate A S Muhammad delivered his decision:

” I have carefully  considered the evidence of PW1 (Shakirat Yusuf) on the character of the convicts as well as considered the Allocutus made by learned counsel to the convicts and I have equally reflected on the provisions of sections 316 and 417 of the Kwara state administration of criminal justice law, 2018. In compliance with the provisions under S.417 (2) ( d) of the Kwara state ACJL , 2018 , I shall not pass maximum sentence on the convicts.  “Premised on the forgoing for the offence  of conspiracy, I sentenced the 1st and 2nd convicts to a fine of N40,000 only each or 2 months imprisonment in default of payment.   “On defamation, the 1st and 2nd convicts are sentenced to a fine of N60,000.00 only each or 3 months  imprisonment in default of payment. “For clarity, each of the  convicts is to pay a fine of N100, 000.00 only for the offences  of conspiracy and defamation respectively, haven been convicted  in default of payment, the  sentence shall run concurrently. Rights  of Appeal exist within 30 days”.