Posted by News Express | 10 October 2012 | 3,190 times
More trouble has come the way of The Moment newspapers, with its pioneer Abuja Bureau Chief, Mr. Simon Imobo-Tswam, dragging the company to court and claiming over N200 million for libel and accumulated salary arrears.
Although The Moment’s troubles started last year, the sudden exit from office in January of its owner, the former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, has compounded its woes, the paper having already exhausted its take-off funds said to be in the neighbourhood of a billion naira.
The financial crisis has forced the Lagos-based daily paper to revert to a weekly, and has also led to mass resignations, including the Sunday Editor, the Deputy Editor, the Political Editor, the IT Manager, Deputy Production Editor, the Abuja Bureau Accountant as well as the plaintiff, who, until August this year was the Abuja Bureau Editor.
Instituted on September 26 in the Abuja Judicial Division, Imobo-Tswam’s Suit No. CV/206/’12 and lists The Publisher, Mr. Moffat Ekoriko; the Editor, Mr. Martin Azuwike; and the Admin Manager, Mr. Chris Omosivwe, as defendants.
In the suit filed by Imobo-Tswam’s counsel, Messrs. Adewale Yusuf of Adwewale Yusuf & Associates, the seasoned journalist is alleging tax fraud and defamation in respect of a disclaimer on him published in The Moment of September 3, 2012.
Besides the N200 million, Imobo-Tswam is also claiming from the defendants, severally and jointly, the sum of N1,104,000, being his accumulated salary from December 2011 to July 31, 2012.
He is equally claiming N500,000, being the cost of the suit; N276,000, being the tax deducted from his salary from January 2011 to July 31, 2012, but which was not remitted to the appropriate tax authorities as well as N240,000, being incurred out-of-pocket expenses on the company while in its employ.
News Express reports that trouble started when Imobo-Tswam, consequent upon his resignation, asked the company to off-set his accumulated entitlements, allegedly totaling N1,620,500.
According to the writ of summons, a copy of which was made available to News Express, Imobo-Tswam resigned on June 22, 2012, and after the mandatory on-month notice, The Moment accepted his resignation on August 10, 2012, asking him to hand over the official car in his custody.
The plaintiff, according to the writ, wrote back, through his counsel on August 22, requesting that his eight months entitlements be first paid before handing over the car.
It was after this letter that “the 1st defendant, with the connivance o the 2nd and 3rd defendants falsely and maliciously published the disclaimer in The Moment,” according to court papers.
No date has been fixed for hearing yet.
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