By Suleiman Shehu
Prof. Adeshola Adepoju, the Director-General, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), on Monday told an Iyaganku Magistrates’ Court that the Sahara Reporters’ defamatory publication against him threatened his safety.
Adepoju made this known while being led in evidence by the Prosecution Counsel, Mrs Aminat Ameen, as a prosecution witness before the court.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defendant, Abraham Joseph, is facing a three-count charge of conspiracy, breach of public peace and publishing defamatory message against Adeshola Adepoju, the Director-General of FRIN.
Adepoju said that the publication against him by the defendant in the Sahara Reporters online publication “generated a lot of tension from within and outside the country that he had to stay away from the office for safety base on the protest by FRIN staff members”.
According to him, the publication by Sahara Reporters alleged that I diverted the staff cooperative deductions from the Integrated Payroll and Personal System (IPPIS) to personal account for my personal use.
“Base on the allegation, the staff members started requesting for their money and that if I don’t provide it they could not guarantee my safety which made me sought for protection under the law.
“We got to know that the defendant was behind the publication when we are doing our routing staff posting in the institute and the defendant was one of those transferred.
“He wrote back to the institute that he will not proceed on transfer and that the transfer was based on the publication he made to Sahara Reporters online.
“The police did their best to manage him and made him understand that the allegation he made against me is not visible, but he insisted that he has fact to the publication,” he said.
The prosecution then tendered the Sahara Reporters’ publication which was rejected by the defendant’s counsel, Mr Omotayo Olufemi.
Olufemi said that the document sought to be tendered by the prosecution was not the original.
He then urged the court to grant him an adjournment to enable him to furnish the court with authority to back his argument.
However, the prosecution did not object to the defendant’s counsel submission.
The Magistrate, T.B. Oyekanmi then adjourned the case until Feb.14 for further hearing.
NAN recalled that the defendant and others now at large allegedly conspired with Sahara Reporters, an online medium, to publish a defamatory article against the Director-General of FRIN.
This is with the intention of tarnishing his reputation and causing a breach of public peace at the institute.
The prosecution had also alleged that the defendant conducted himself in a manner likely to cause breach of peace with the publication of Sahara Reporters against Adepoju, knowing that the publication was false and could lead to civil unrest within and outside the institute.
The prosecution said the incident happened on June 29, 2021 at about 2.00 p.m and that the offences contravened Sections 517, 375 and 249(d) of the Criminal Code Cap 38 Vol. II Laws of Oyo State of Nigeria, 2000. (NAN)