By Samson Yaki

Sahara Reporters, one of the leading and authoritative online media in Nigeria may have bitten more than it can chew this time around, if the allegations of libel against it by the former Acting Registrar of National Examination Council (NECO), Mallam Abubakar Gana, is proven in a competent court of law, as the online media may have to cough out N2bn in favor of the former NECO Scribe.

“However, if Sahara Reporters can tender Public apology to Gana in two national dailies, and on its webpage, retract and pull down all false and libelous stories related to him wherever they were initially posted, all within seven days, then Sahara Reporters may not have to pay Gana the N2bn damages he plans to use the court to force them to pay him”, Counsel to Gana assured.

“Failure, neglect and refusal to comply with this notice, we shall be left with no other option than to seek for N2billion as damages against you,” Gana’s Counsel told Sahara Reporters.

This was contained in a letter dated 5th October 2020, addressed to the Editor-in-Chief of Sahara Reporters by Victor Giwa and Associates, Counsel to the Former NECO Acting Registrar, titled, “Urgent demand notice for apology and retraction of false and libelous stories against our client.”

It would be recalled that Sahara Reporters wrote and posted on its website three different stories against Gana which he said were libelous, defamatory, and capable of lowering his reputation in the eyes of the public and right-thinking persons in the society.

“Sahara Reporters wrote three different stories with the following captions (i) Exposed: How Former Acting Registrar of NECO, Gana, siphoned N368m Registration fees in six months (ii) Exposed: Former Acting NECO Registrar, Gana, in N548m Contract duplication, and (iii) Exclusive: Education Ministry Permanent Secretary, Echono, Former NECO Acting Registrar, Gana, Others Fingered in N6bn contract fraud.” Gana’s Counsel recalled.

Gana’s counsel opined that their client is a seasoned public servant and a professional examiner, who has given over 34 years to productive public service at various levels of government and has through dint of hard work, commitment, and good service, risen to the level of director before he was appointed Acting Registrar of NECO.

“It is therefore our position that the said publications against our client are outrightly false, malicious, spurious, and intended to injure our client’s reputation which he has built for over three decades.” The counsel stressed.

Education Monitor’s independent findings, however, revealed that Abubakar Gana’s two years as Acting Registrar of NECO, arguably, were the most eventful, successful, and historic, in terms of transparency, serene and laudable achievements.

Gana’s administrative skills, capacity and honesty led to the generation, for the first time in the history of NECO, billions of naira from internally generated revenue, out of which N2b was returned to the federal government in his first year, and about same amount was also remitted to the federal government before the expiration of his second year as Acting Registrar

He was also the one that reduced NECO and Basic Education Certificate Examination fees to enable children of the less privileged to afford to pay and sit for the examination. He, with the support of the Council’s Board, for the first time, mustered rare courage to identify staff of the council with fake Certificates and flushed them out of the system.

In fact, suffice it to say, the achievements of Gana within two years surpasses the entire achievements of all his predecessors.

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