LUSAKA lawyer and former president Rupiah Banda’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations, Dickson Jere, has dragged economist Noel Nkoma to the Lusaka High Court for allegedly accusing him of being a liar and an attention seeker in one of the Whatsapp groups.
The alleged defamatory words were uttered following Jere’s eulogy in honour of Director-General of the Zambia Security and Intelligence Services, Samuel Nkhoma.
Jere, who is also a journalist, is seeking damages for malicious falsehood and libel as well as aggravated damages.
According to a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court recently, Jere explained that on August 9, 2020, he wrote a eulogy in honour of Nkhoma, the deceased Director-General of the Zambia Security and Intelligence Services, titled “The spy who liked me”.
He stated that in the article, which was posted on his Facebook page on August 9, 2020, he recounted a few fond memories of his interactions with the deceased.
Jere stated that without invitation or due cause, the defendant, Nkoma, responded to his writing via a commentary in one of the Whatsapp Groups called ‘Dynamic Analysis’, which had in excess of 200 members, calling him an attention seeker.
“That… ‘baba Ponda, don’t believe everything that Dickson writes about as he is an attention seeker and I know that was not the DG we knew. He claims relevance when he was nowhere close to the man. So sad that he can write about DG like this. Shame on him. Zikomo’,” read the claim.
Jere stated that Nkoma’s words were, as would be expected, reposted verbatim on various Whatsapp groups, including one called “Business and Interaction”, which had a membership of over 200.
He added that the widely read online media publication, Zambian Watchdog, also quoted Nkoma’s circulated comments which were captured in an article titled “Jere is lying, he didn’t know the DG, says Noel Nkhoma…” published on August 9, 2020, adding that Nkoma had expressed shock at the eulogy published by Jere.
“In their natural and ordinary meaning, the defendant’s words meant and were understood to mean that the plaintiff is an untruthful person with tendency to tell lies and is thus a liar and an untrustworthy person who is also an attention seeker claiming a relationship that he did not have for purpose of personal gratification,” read the claim further.
Jere stated that Nkoma invited his audience and the general public to despise him and hold him in contempt by pouring shame on him.
He stated that Nkoma wrote the words, knowing fully well that they were false and with intent to injure his reputation and lower his standing in society.
Jere further stated that as a result, he had spent time and resources explaining to various persons the untruthfulness of Nkoma’s words and the factual position relating to his relationship with the deceased.
Jere added that the defendant, despite admitting that he uttered and published the said words without factual basis, had refused to render an apology even after the demand for costs was written to him.