Defamation lawsuit: Sylvia defeats Publisher Jackson Ude

By Gloria Akudoro, Abuja

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, came victorious in a case of defamation he filed against Jackson Ude of Pointblank News in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Under a Settlement Agreement fully executed the Counsel for Sylva, Michael Cilento and the Counsel for Ude, Bennett Amadi, the publisher agreed to take down, delete, and destroy all articles and publications that allege any criminal or other misconduct by Sylva appearing on the Point Blank News website and from Mr Ude’s social media accounts, especially those publications in issue in this case.

Sylva had filed a lawsuit after Ude alleged Sylva’s involvement in bribery, fraud, and corruption in the awarding of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Train 7 contract to a joint venture headed by the Italian company, Saipem.

The contract, worth $4 billion, is for the engineering, procurement, and construction of the production unit at the gas company’s Bonny Island plant in Rivers State.

Ude had also accused the Minister of paying the sum of $10,000 bribe to each member of the National Assembly to influence them to break the 13-year legislative jinx of passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

Part of the judgment from the United States Federal Court reads; “Publisher Jackson Ude, represents and warrants that his employer, Point Blank News, will cooperate with him and work with him for the good faith and amicable resolution of this matter.

“Ude further represents and warrants that he does not own Point Blank News and that Point Blank News is his employer.

“Mr Ude will reasonably and in good faith take down, delete, and destroy all articles and publications that allege any criminal or other misconduct by Sylva appearing on the Point Blank News website and from Ude’s social media accounts, especially those publications in issue in this case.

“He will not (directly or indirectly) publish any false or defamatory information about Mr Sylva, with liquidated damages of $25,000 per any such publication and attorneys’ fees to the winner of any litigation therefrom.

“Mr Ude will not (directly or indirectly) engage in any act either to harass or spread false information against the minister.

“Mr Ude also will have seven days to pull all articles down and publish the certification. The ECF 138, which is the signed settlement agreement with the signature of the Judge, has a 15-point out-of-court agreement to avoid further litigation on the matter.

“Within 7 days from the Effective Date, Sylva and Ude will execute the necessary stipulation to dismiss the Lawsuit, in the form of Annex A hereto, and will file the Agreement and Annexes with the Court.

“Within 7 days from the Effective Date, Ude will send Sylva (through the parties’ attorneys), and publish only once on the Point Blank News website (which shall be remain viewable from the homepage for seven days), a hand-signed and dated certification, in the form of Annex B hereto.

“No amount of money will exchange hands between the Parties as part of this resolution and Agreement.”

Meanwhile, the case was presided over by the United States District Judge, Hon. Joseph Leeson Jr.

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