By Maudlyn Eduke
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has pardoned Bayelsa State born blogger, Mr. Saint Mienpamo Onitsha over a defamatory publication against his administration.
Mr. Saint Onitsha who is the owner of Naija Live TV, an online news outfit, had on May 2, 2020 published a report, accusing Bello of spending N7 billion on a Covid-19 isolation centre.
In the report, Mr. Saint Onitsha attached pictures of the purportedly built isolation centre which was blown away by rainstorm.
The report caused huge embarrassment to the governor and his government, which led to the arrest, detention and prosecution of the controversial blogger by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS)
According to the DSS, investigations revealed that the publication was an orchestration to tarnish the image of Bello and incite the public against his administration.
But on Wednesday, Bello ordered the withdrawal of the case of defamation filed against him.
At the sitting of the Federal High Court in Yenagoa, the presiding Judge, Justice Abimbola Awogboro, struck out the case based on the request of the governor.
The accused news blogger had earlier tendered an unreserved apology to Bello and the people of Kogi State before the case was struck out.
The news Blogger, who was full of praises for the Kogi State Governor, said : “First of all, I want to appreciate the Kogi state governor for playing a fatherly role. I appreciate him because he has decided to forgive me as a father and I take him as a father from today.
“On the professional angle, as journalists, we do confirm stories before we publish. I will still make sure that going forward, I will get to the root of all my stories before publication,”.
He also commended the Commissioner for Information and Communications in Kogi state, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo for taking the time to come from Lokoja to Yenagoa to see to the amicable end of the case.
Mr Fanwo, described Governor Bello as media friendly person and would not want anything that may destroy the existing cordial relationship between him and the media.
“Let me first of all thank the DSS for the diligent prosecution of this case. From the investigation and prosecution, the DSS showed to the world that they are one of the best agencies that we have in Nigeria.
“The governor has decided to forgive Saint Mienpamo for so many reasons. One of the reasons is that he apologized to the governor and he has learnt his lessons from this to always follow the ethics of the profession. We are very sure that he is a young journalist that has been doing very well.
“So, we do believe that it’s an error on his part, and having apologized to the governor, the governor has decided to forgive him. Secondly, the governor is a friend of journalists and he is someone that is very friendly to media practitioners. So, he has decided to use this as an example of his cordial relationship with pen pushers.
“Lastly, Saint Mienpamo is a young man like the governor. They belong to the youth bracket. He is a friend of all youths across the country. So, it’s a way of saying, Saint Miepamo, you are my friend and despite the disagreement, I have decided to forgive you,” he added.
Lead defendant Counsel to Saint Mienpamo, Barr. Benjamin Ogbarah, said his client was standing trial for cyber stocking over a publication he made against the governor of Kogi state.
He said the case was amicably withdrawn after Mienpamo and his family approached and pleaded with the Kogi state governor for out-of-court settlement.
He said the withdrawal of the case was brought pursuant to section 108, subsection 2 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, adding that the withdrawal of the case means acquittal of Saint Miepamo.