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Charges dropped against reporters

03 May 2013, 07:12

Abuja - The government on Thursday dropped forgery charges against two journalists and their newspaper over a story claiming the president had ordered a sabotage campaign of an opposition coalition, a court document said.

In a withdrawal notice filed at the Abuja Federal High Court, a lawyer representing the attorney general informed the court that "the criminal proceeding consisting of six counts charge" against the accused has been withdrawn.

The reporters Tony Amokeodo, Chibuzor Ukaibe and their Leadership newspaper group were formally charged on April 16 over the story which President Goodluck Jonathan's office has dismissed as false.

According to the report in the independent Leadership newspaper on April 3, Jonathan instructed his allies to frustrate efforts by the opposition to unite ahead of presidential polls in 2015.

The charges included conspiracy to commit a felony by forging a document and other related offences.

Jonathan's spokesman, Reuben Abati, then called the article "a mishmash of carefully arranged and concocted lies", saying it sought "to cause civil strife, engender a breakdown of law and order ... is a very grievous act indeed that should not be ignored".

Nigeria's print media often write fierce criticism of Jonathan.

Local media rights groups, as well as the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, have strongly condemned Nigeria's reaction to the article.

The journalists' lawyer, Femi Falana, on Friday met Jonathan in his Abuja office but it is not clear if the withdrawal of the case is connected with that visit.



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