Court Denies Rep. Nyekan’s Appeal to Drop US$1.5M Libel Suit

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An appeal to drop US$1.5 million libel lawsuit filed against Montserrado County District #11 Representative Gabriel Nyekan for allegedly describing Journalist Mamadee S. Diakite as a “jihadist and ex- fighter of Liberia United for Reconstruction and Democracy (LURD) was last Friday denied by the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice.

Diakite’s Lawyer asked the court for a US$1.5 million judgment against defendant Nyekan, “which is sufficient enough to restore his reputation as a result of the defendant’s false and malicious allegation” made against him.

At Friday’s hearing, Rep. Nyekan’s lawyer pleaded with the court to drop the case, arguing that the word jihadist was not an insult, instead, it is used by the Muslim scholar to convert people to the Islamic religion.

Denying the appeal, Judge Johanes Zogbay Zlahn said, Jihadism (also jihadist extremism, jihadist movement, jihadi movement or militant jihadism) is commonly used in reference to aggressive interpretations of armed jihad in association with extremist interpretations of Islamic fundamentalism.

“Since the word is associated with extremism, the request is hereby denied and the matter is ruled for trial,” Judge Zlahn further declared.

He did not mention any specific date for the hearing of the matter.

The case started when Diakite issued a “Motion for Damages for Libel” against defendant Nyekan, claiming that the defendant on September 18, 2014, held a press conference in Monrovia, where he allegedly described him (Diakite) as “jihadist and ex-LURD fighter, casting doubt about his citizenship.

Mr. Diakite further claimed that Rep. Nyekan said he had court records to establish that he (Diakite) stole a forty-foot (40ft) container from the Freeport Port of Monrovia, where he served as Container Park Superintendent and was convicted of the crime.

Diakite also alleged that the defendant said, his (Diakite’s)  name was on the payroll of the Ministry of State receiving an amount of US$5,000 monthly, and he (the defendant) had evidences to substantiate all of the allegations.

Mr. Diakite contended that the September 18 press conference was broadcast on Sky FM radio, as well as reported in other print and electronic media, including the internet.

Mr. Diakite contended that the allegation to besmear, defame and damage his hard earned character and reputation, as a law abiding citizen, justifies the US$1.5million award which is sufficient enough to restore his reputation .

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