Following the lengthy trial of a ₦170m contract scam involving the managing director of Citadel Oracle, Joseph Benjamin, top officials of Zinox Technologies and a few others, Zinox Technologies Limited has filed a ₦2 billion lawsuit in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, against Premium Times for defamation.
This is coming after Premium Times refused to comply with a seven-day deadline given by the management of Zinox to retract some defamatory publications against the company and some of its officials regarding the contract scam case.
The case of the ₦170 million naira contract scam has been ongoing since 2012. According to reports by Premium Times, some officials in Zinox including the chairman Leonard Stanley Ekeh, and his wife, illegally took over a ₦170.3 million contract initially offered to Citadel Oracle Concept Limited, a computer retail firm in Ibadan by impersonating the Ibadan-based firm.
However, the plaintiff Joseph Benjamin, managing director of Citadel Oracle, is now the defendant as the police arrested and arraigned him for falsifying information in his original petition against Zinox and others.
Two articles published by the Premium Times on the 15th of September and 9th of May, 2016, and a third on the 2nd of May 2017, all allege that Zinox Technologies and its chairman Leo Stan Ekeh are embroiled in the contract scam.
According to the Nigerian Communications Week, Head of Corporate Communications at Zinox Gideon Ayogu, has refuted the claims, saying,
It is important to note that in the entire transaction leading up to this case, in all the above investigations and reports, Zinox Technologies Ltd. was not in any way involved. The transaction only involved Technology Distributions Ltd. and its staff, of whom the reports of the Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU) and other agencies had absolved TD and its staff of any liabilities, after extensive investigations since 2013 that traversed the SFU, the Nigerian Police Headquarters, Abuja; and the EFCC, Abuja. Yet, Premium Times kept spewing out spurious stories as if Technology Distributions and its staff were under investigations or facing criminal charges
He went ahead to state that Leo Stan Ekeh was not involved in the said transaction and had never even met Mr. Benjamin Joseph. He alleged foul play by Premium Times for the "continued campaign of calumny" against Leo Stan Ekeh.
In addition to the ₦2 billion claim, Zinox is also demanding that Premium Times publishes a public apology for 2 months without interruption and that a judicial order restraining them from putting up similar publications in the future is enforced.
Zinox also wants all offending publications including those on social media retracted and ₦10 million paid for the cost of legal fees incurred.
Now, it is up to Premium Times to provide proof of their claims in court.