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UK journalist wins £80k damages after being hired ‘to smear’ UAE and Egypt critics

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UK journalist wins £80k damages after being hired ‘to smear’ UAE and Egypt critics

A journalist has been awarded over £80,000 in damages against a London-based investigative website and its CEO – a press freedom campaigner – after claiming she was duped into joining the organisation only to find out that it was a propaganda vehicle for the UAE and Egypt.

Jane Cahane said she was told in her job interview by Mohamed Fahmy, who was imprisoned in Egypt for over a year for disseminating “false news” in a case that caused a public outcry, that the Investigative Journal (TIJ) was a publication of independent investigative journalism.

But Cahane, who was editor-in-chief between December 2018 and July 2019, said TIJ received funding from the UAE and pursued an agenda intended to further the interests of the Gulf state and Egypt.

In the particulars of her claim, Cahane said Fahmy was “assisted and directed” by representatives or agents of the UAE and, in June 2019, met with the authoritarian Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, under whose regime Fahmy was imprisoned , “to discuss TIJ’s editorial line and content”.

After neither TIJ nor Fahmy presented a defence, a judgment in default, seen by the Guardian, was entered and Cahane was awarded £80,735.92 for fraudulent and/or negligent misrepresentation plus costs.

Sitting at the high court in London, senior master Fontaine said in her written judgment: “This was a particularly difficult and sensitive area relating to journalism and the funding of journalism for purposes that were alleged to be political rather than independent and relates to alleged funding from Middle-Eastern sources … the reputation of the claimant as a journalist of integrity was at stake and for her that concern was likely to have been as important as the financial claim that she has made, and that has to be appropriately reflected [in the remedy].”

Fahmy, a Canadian citizen, hit the headlines when he was convicted in Egypt in 2014 alongside two fellow Al Jazeera English journalists, Egyptian national Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste. He was sentenced to seven years in jail for endangering national security and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, despite independent observers saying there was no credible evidence.

Fahmy, who has also worked for CNN, the LA Times, and BBC, was awarded a prize by the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom during the trial. He was later represented by Amal Clooney and he and his colleagues were all pardoned in 2015. In 2019, he was a speaker at the Foreign Office’s inaugural international media freedom conference in London.

Cahane had previously worked on travel website Culture Trip and renewable energy news title Recharge before joining TIJ.

Her particulars of claim said that her job description at the TIJ stated she would “work with leading journalists and a team of editors to help create and manage a top-tier, investigative online publication”. But she said the reality was different. “At no time has TIJ covered, nor did the defendants intend TIJ to cover, a wide range of topics and a diversity of viewpoints from an independent and objective standpoint,” the document stated.

“Articles, reports and social media content published by TIJ have focused and focus primarily on aggressively targeting, attacking and smearing those perceived to be opponents of the United Arab Emirates and the Arab Republic of Egypt, including particular countries such as Turkey, Qatar and Iran and particular organisations such as the Muslim Brotherhood.”

At the time of going to press TIJ’s website was not working. The court heard that the company is going into liquidation, while Companies House says it has not filed accounts due in October last year. The journal and Fahmy are jointly and severally liable for the sums owed to Cahane.

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Ondo Govt reacts to court judgement declaring new LCDAs ‘illegal’

The Ondo State Government says necessary legal action will be taken on the judgement nullifying the creation of the 33 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state.

The government’s reaction is contained in a statement by the Attorney General of Ondo State, Mr Kayode Ajulo SAN, made available to  newsmen on Friday in Akure.

Justice A.O Adebusuoye of the state High Court had in a judgement on Thursday described the creation of the LCDAs as unlawful.

The court said it was illegal for a governor to sign a law outside the State.

The court said that the Local Government Creation Law 2023 signed by the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Ibadan was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The statement said the government has taken cognizance of Ondo State High Court’s judgement and had requested for a Certified True Copy of it.

Ajulo said after it was studied and analysed, a legal opinion would be presented to the state government.

“Subsequently, all necessary measures, in accordance with our laws, will be taken to safeguard the interests of our citizens, foster peaceful coexistence, and uphold the rule of law.

“The Attorney General remains steadfast in his commitment to prioritizing the well-being and welfare of our citizens, working tirelessly to ensure that justice and the law are served,” the statement said.

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LASTMA impounds 40 vehicles in Oyingbo, ijora, idumota axis

The  Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has impounded another 25 commercial and 15 private vehicles operating illegal garages and causing serious road obstructions around Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota areas of  Lagos.

Mr Taofiq Adebayo, Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, said this in a statement on Friday in Lagos.

Adebayo said impounding the vehicles at these areas was a decisive move by LASTMA to restore order and ensure the free flow of traffic.

He said the operation was led by LASTMA Head of Enforcement, Mr Kayode Odunuga, under the directives of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa.

Adebayo that they were specifically directed to target illegal garages that had been a persistent source of congestion and inconvenience for residents and commuters.

He said the impoundment, which began in recent weeks, was part of a broader initiative by the  Lagos State Government to enhance the efficiency of the city’s transportation network.

He quoted Giwa as emphasising that government is committed to maintaining law and order on the roads, ensuring that all traffic regulations are strictly enforced.

“illegal garages have been a significant challenge in our quest to maintain a seamless traffic flow in Lagos.

“These impoundments send a strong message to all offenders that the state will not tolerate activities that disrupt public order and endanger the lives of our citizens.

“Our goal is to create a safe and orderly environment for all road users and this action is a crucial step in that direction,” Giwa said.

He noted that the targeted areas, Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota, are known hotspots for traffic congestion due to unauthorised parking and the establishment of makeshift garages.

He said that these activities not only obstruct the free movement of vehicles but also pose safety risks to pedestrians.

“LASTMA’s intervention aims to clear these bottlenecks and enhance the overall traffic situation in these critical areas.

“Residents and business owners have expressed their support for the government’s action, noting the positive impact it will have on their daily activities.

“LASTMA has also assured the public that the operation will be sustained and extended to other parts of the city where illegal garages and related activities are prevalent,” he quoted Giwa as saying.

He urged all vehicle owners and operators to adhere to the state’s traffic regulations and cooperate with authorities to avoid sanctions.

He reiterated that the government’s primary objective was to create a better and more livable Lagos for everyone.

He also urged motorists to take ownership of the roads and to promptly inform LASTMA of any broken down or abandoned trailers or trucks via the Agency’s hotlines: 0810056586008129928503.

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Emir of Ilorin commiserates with Saraki over mother’s death

Nigeria in very bad shape, only PDP can rebuild it —Saraki

Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, has commiserated with a former Senate President,  Dr Bukola Saraki, over the death of his mother, Mrs Florence Saraki.

This is contained in a condolence message issued by the emir’s Spokesman, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, on Wednesday in Ilorin.

Mrs Saraki died on Tuesday at the age of 89.

Sulu-Gambari described the deceased as a wonderful mother, great philanthropist and virtuous wife to  Dr Olusola Saraki, the late Waziri of Ilorin, whose contributions to humanity would forever be remembered.

According to him, the deceased lived a fulfilled life, with numerous accomplishments.

The royal father urged Saraki, a two-term governor of Kwara, and his siblings to be strong in heart over the demise of their beloved mother.

Sulu-Gambari, who is also the Chairman of Kwara Traditional Rulers’ Council, extended his condolences to both the immediate and extended family members of the Saraki dynasty.

“I pray that Almighty Allah grants the family and friends the fortitude to bear the great loss,” he said.

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