A high court sitting in the Gwagwalada area of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has fixed February 14, 2022, for the hearing of a defamation suit filed against the anchor of the popular Brekete family show on Abuja-based human rights radio, Ahmed Isah, by the head of media and protocol at the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Fabian Benjamin.
Mr Benjamin approached the court to press charges of allegations of “defamation and false allegations,” against Mr Isah, who is popularly called Ordinary President by his followers.
Also joined in the suit as 1st defendant is Premier Broadcasting Ltd (owners of Human Rights Radio), where Mr Isah works and is the founder.
But Mr Isah said he was unsure if his office has been served the court documents, and so could not comment on the matter.
About the matter
In the suit marked (CV/3211/2021) and filed by the claimant (Mr Benjamin’s) lawyer, Chris Alashi, before Justice A.O. Ebong, of the FCT High Court, Gwagwalada, the JAMB spokesperson is demanding the sum of N6 billion as compensation for “general damages for the deliberate, libellous and malicious public broadcast.”
Mr Benjamin through his Lawyers said on April 16, 2021, between 7:30a.m and 10a.m, Mr Isah, while on-air on Human Rights Radio and Television (Brekete Programme), put a call to him via his Mobile No. 080xxxxxxx during which Mr Isah “maliciously defamed the claimant by impugning, maligning and discrediting his integrity and reputation as the PRO of JAMB and an academic.”
He said Mr Isah, while on-air, accused him of forging his PhD certificate as well as being an insane, incompetent, unscrupulous and sadistic person of questionable character.
“The claimant also charges the 2nd defendant with saying his (Claimant’s) bad behaviour and arrogance are hereditary, were acquired from his parents; that there is no solution to it; and that the claimant’s parents are also arrogant and damnable,” a statement by Mr Benjamin reads in part.
Meanwhile, as watched on the Facebook page by our reporter, the April 16, 2021 edition of the programme revealed that Mr Isah, the anchor, read out an anonymous message lamenting JAMB’s policy of requesting unique phone numbers of each applicant for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) which is conducted by JAMB.
Parts of the anonymous message as read out on the show reads; “There is a very serious problem that JAMB is doing now that will adversely affect our children tomorrow. For them to say children must use their phone with registered Sim and text their NIN (National Identification Numbers) number to a particular code before they get their secret code before they register for JAMB is counterproductive. What of those children who do not have personal phones and NCC has banned the selling of new SIM”.
Mr Isah instantly phoned Mr Benjamin live on the programme to seek clarification.
JAMB’s spokesperson, Mr Benjamin, while responding to the inquiry by the anchor, explained that the policy was put in place to fight Identity theft.
He added that the board had met with the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and the minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Ibrahim, and that they had promised to provide SIM Cards to students who could prove that they truly did not have one.
However, a mild argument ensued when Mr Benjamin accused Mr Isah of framing up scenarios to find fault in the policy; a development that led to an end to the call.
Both later accused each other of being responsible for ending the call.
“You cannot be blackmailing people on a national radio” Mr Benjamin’s voice was heard through the speaker of Mr Isah’s phone with a microphone placed on it for listeners to hear.
“I am asking on behalf of Nigerians and that is the reason why they are paying you money there,” Mr Isah replied amid cheers and claps from his guests in the premises where he was broadcasting from.
Mr Isah questioned Mr Benjamin’s doctorate degree. He also called him a psychopath, which Mr Benjamin condemned when Mr Isah finally called him back.
Anchor’s past cases
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Nigerian government agency in charge of regulating broadcast activities in Nigeria, had in May 2021 slammed a 30-day suspension on Mr Isah’s Brekete Radio, following a documentary by BBC African Eye, an investigative arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
The documentary filmed how Mr Isah, while listening to cases, assaulted a woman by slapping her. The woman was accused of burning a minor whom she accused of being a witch. Mr Isah later apologised.
NBC said it has over the years warned and fined the station over repeated cases of abuse, denigrating remarks, flagrant abuse of fairness, balance and fair hearing.