Tony John, Port Harcourt
A Rivers State High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, has restrained the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and others, from further publishing the name of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, in the looters’ list.
The restraining order was made, on Monday, by the trial Judge and Chief Judge of the State, Justice Adama Iyayi-Lamikanra, when the matter came up for hearing.
Justice Iyayi-Lamikanra gave the order following the Plaintiff’s motion seeking Interlocutory Injunction to restrain the Defendants from further publishing the libelous material.
Secondus had dragged Mohammed to court to challenge the inclusion of his name in the looters’ list; that he (Secondus) collected the sum of N200 million, on February 19, 2015; money which he claimed, he never collected.
The Plaintiff had prayed to court to order the defendants to retract the libelous material in as many media houses as they published it; and payment of N1.5 billion to him as damages.
However, there was no legal representative for the defendants in court. But, the court ordered that they (defendants) should be served hearing notice by the plaintiff.
Speaking with journalists shortly after court proceedings, counsel for the plaintiff, Emeka Etiaba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the State High Court, has absolute jurisdiction to try the matter because it borders on libel.
Etiaba said there was no truth in what the defendants (Mohammed and others) published, saying it was a case of “executive recklessness”.
He stated that the publication was a gimmick by the defendants to destroy the PDP and its national leadership against the 2019 elections.
Secondus’ counsel expressed satisfaction with prayer one, which effectively put a halt to further libel.
The matter was adjourned till May 28, for continuation.