Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara reporters, has accused Senate President Bukola Saraki of “fraudulently procuring” the court order which blocked the accounts of his organisation.
On July 25, Adeyinka Oyinloye, justice of the Kwara state high court, ordered the freezing of two accounts – UBA and GTB – linked to Sowore.
Saraki had filed charges of libel against the publisher at the court, where he procured an order asking Sowore to pay N4 billion as damages for allegedly publishing malicious content against him.
Speaking with Premium Times, Sowore accused the senate president of deliberately conspiring with his associates to send court summons to wrong addresses in the bid to prevent him from defending himself.
“They sent their notice to 142 W. 29th Street, New York, when for a fact Sahara Reporters’ address is situated at 146 W. 29th Street, New York,” the publisher was quoted to have said.
“So, you can see they deliberately sent it to the wrong address so we won’t be aware of the lawsuit. In Lagos, where Sahara Reporters opened a multimedia facility on Isaac John Street on May 25, Mr Saraki’s lawyers also sent the notice to the wrong street number.”
However, the publisher said the operations of his media organisation were not seriously affected because it is run from New York.
He also said the bank accounts that were frozen contained $300,000, which was a grant from MacArthur Foundation.
“They blocked only funds in the bank accounts in Nigeria. But our activities have always been run from the United States. The money blocked in Nigeria belongs to Sahara Reporters Media Lab which is a foundation,” he said.
He added that the media lab was not a party to the libel suit because “it didn’t even exist as of the time the case was instituted”.
“But Saraki used his intrigues and influence over the State Security Service to get the Media Lab account frozen,” he said.
“Specifically, the account was holding the remaining portion the $300,000 grant which Sahara Reporters Foundation received from MacArthur Foundation earlier this year.
“We’ve done a lot of projects from the $300,000 so far paid to us by the MacArthur Foundation. The rest of the of the money paid to us by the MacArthur Foundation is what the court blocked.”