Last has not been heard in the kidnap saga set around alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, a.k.a. Evans, as a Lagos-based pharmacist, Emeka Egbulugha, has commenced a N200m libel lawsuit against one of Evans’ victims, Chief Donatus Dunu.
Dunu, who is the Chief Executive Officer of a pharmaceutical company, Maydon Pharmaceutical Limited, had been kidnapped by Evans’ gang on his way home in the evening of February 14, this year.
The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of €1m from Dunu’s family, threatening to kill him if the money was not provided.
Dunu, upon regaining his freedom from the kidnappers’ den eventually, accused one of the pharmacists in his company, Egbulugha, of having a hand in his ordeal.
He claimed to have heard Egbulugha’s voice on several occasions negotiating with the kidnappers when the pharmacist allegedly visited the kidnappers’ hideout.
On the strength of Dunu’s allegation, the police on May 12, 2017, arrested Egbulugha and detained him for 40 days.
Two other employees of Dunu’s company, Kingsley Egbeonu and Tochukwu Nwosu, were also arrested and equally detained by the police.
But the police eventually arrested Evans and his gang members on June 10, 2017.
However, upon parading Egbulugha and the two other arrested employees before the kidnappers for identification, the kidnappers, according to Egbulugha, denied knowing the three employees, following which the police withdrew the charges they pressed against them before a magistrates’ court.
Egbulugha, a pharmacist of about seven years practice experience, claimed to have suffered a grave damage to his personal and professional reputation for the alleged false allegation levelled against him by his former boss, Dunu.
He has, therefore, filed a N200m libel lawsuit against Dunu and his company before the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere.
Also joined as respondents in the suit were one Pharmanews Limited and Vintage Press Limited, whose publications or reports on the incident, Egbulugha claimed had injured his person and caused him “considerable distress and embarrassment.”
According to Egbulugha, Pharmanews, which is into publication of healthcare and pharmaceutical news, on May 17, 2017 published a report, titled, “Revealed: How pharmacist re-enacted Judas Iscariot, allegedly kidnapped his boss”; while on its own part, Vintage Press Limited on June 17, 2017, published a piece which Egbulugha claimed to be malicious.
“The said newspaper publications, interviews and online publications by the defendants contain untrue, false, malicious and defamatory statements about the claimant with the clear intent of damaging the image and reputation of the claimant.
“…As a result of the malicious publications against him by the defendants, on or about 28 June 2017, he went to the Ejigbo branch of Fidelity Bank Plc to withdraw money.
“After withdrawing the sum of N150,000 and returned home, the bank sent two of its (members of) staff with an armed mobile policeman to the claimant’s residence to retrieve the money from the claimant under the force of arm.
“The bank, thereafter, converted the credit balance in the account into a bank draft and closed the claimant’s account without notice or explanation to the claimant till date,” Egbulugha averred in his statement of claim.