JUSTICE Fidela Corbin-Lincoln on Wednesday awarded judgement in default against privately-owned Guyana Times Inc and Tusika Martin, Editor-in-Chief. Martin and the publication had a $200M lawsuit levelled against them by Managing-Director of Ground Structure Engineering Consultants (GSEC) and his wife Ndibi Schwiers for defamation of character.
Ceres and his wife Schwiers, Director of the Department of Environment at the Ministry of the Presidency, are seeking to prevent Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo, Kaieteur News, and the Guyana Times from publishing/ making further defamatory statements against them.
The couple are seeking damages in excess of $200M from Jagdeo for the publishing of the unsubstantiated and defamatory statements via the People’s Progressive Party’s social media channels.
Additionally, the claimants are also seeking another $200M each from the two news outlets for publishing articles based on Jagdeo’s claims, that the couple had obtained the said lands by immoral, improper, illegal and criminal means.
The two parties are also asking the court to consider granting an injunction against the newspapers to prevent them or their servants from publishing further defamatory statements. In addition to the millions worth in damages, the claimants are also seeking retractions and apologies from the two news outlets.
The couple is represented by attorney-at-law Darren Wade.
On Wednesday, since no defence was filed by Guyana Times and its editor-in-chief, the judge awarded judgement in default of defence, in an amount to be determined by the court. The assessment-of-damages hearing is fixed for April 15, 2020.
The lawsuit against Jagdeo and Kaieteur News is still ongoing.
At a June 27, 2019 press conference, Jagdeo accused Ceres of being one of several involved in a massive “land-grabbing” scheme facilitated by the government following the December 21, 2018 no-confidence motion. Ceres, along with others such as Deputy Director of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA), Aubrey Heath-Retemeyer and Head of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), Trevor Benn, have debunked Jagdeo’s claims with documented proof.
Jagdeo, at his weekly press conference, had challenged Ceres to do his worst. “He could sue me because what I state is factual,” Jagdeo said. “I am awaiting the lawsuit and the police investigation…I’m daring him to do this.”
While Ceres has stated that he does indeed have 4.5 acres of land in Liliendaal, this was received since 2017 for which he paid G$4M per acre and is paying $200,000 per acre yearly for the lease. Meanwhile, he has rejected Jagdeo’s remarks once again that he owns or leases any land at Bohemia, Corentyne, Berbice.