‘Ukatu is Not Convicted, CSO Publication Libellous’
Barr. Victor Opara, the counsel to Chief Mallinson Afamefuna Ukatu, Chairman of Mallinson Group, has debunked the news making rounds that his client was convicted for a crime, adding that the CSO publication is libellous.
Recall, the group called Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CDHR) faulted Ukatu’s release by NDLEA in a publication titled ‘CSO faults NDLEA’s drug war over release of Ukatu’ published in Vanguard Newspaper of 6th June, 2023. ‘Mr Mallinson Ukatu is not a criminal, ‘ the counsel insisted.
Opara pointed that CDHR spokesperson, Adebayo Lion Ogorry, who signed the statement, has acted contrary to the law, which has pronounced Ukatu innocent until court proves otherwise.
Speaking with Ukatu’s counsel, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), confirmed that Victor Opara’s Chambers secured his release after applying to the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa, over the unlawful rearrest and detention of his client at NDLEA’s facility Muritala Muhammed International Airport Ikeja, Lagos, noted that the public should disregard the story.
Opara said, “There is no iota of truth in that story. As a matter of fact, it is highly libellous, very injurious to the character of Chief Mallinson Afamefuna Ukatu. Indeed, it is true that Mallinson is facing some criminal charges, but he has pleaded not guilty to those charges, and in accordance with the law, he has been admitted to bail.
“There is a constitutional presumption of innocence that as it is explained in section 36 of 1999 constitution. Mallinson has not been convicted by any court of law, and he is not a convicted drug dealer. Therefore, Mallinson is free to partake in religious activities, he is free to partake in any launching, until he is convicted and sentenced, so there is a presumption of innocence, as long as he has pleaded not guilty to the charges.”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria warned that Opera news, Ogorry, and his group should desist from engaging in campaign calumny, which is injurious to the character and reputation of his client.
“Moreover, the court is a public place, and anyone that is interested in knowing the truth should verify the story, as you can easily have access to the records of court. However, I urge everybody to disregard the story and not to accord it any iota of importance.
“We have full instructions to take every legal action to protect his characters and reputations,” Barr. Opara stressed.
Speaking to Ukatu, he stated that he never confessed to the importation of tramadol worth N22 billion to anybody, adding that he is ready to face the allegations in court squarely.
“I never confessed to importation of any tramadol worth of N22 billion. I never confessed to the commission of any crime. It is highly surprising to see that newspapers publish such stories without verification. I have never been convicted by any court nor sentenced,’ Ukatu stressed.