by Olajide Omojolomoju
•As hoodlums attack PDP lawmaker
Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Muhammad Jega, has obtained an injunction from an Abuja High Court against Nigerian Pilot Newspapers and Nigerian Newsworld Magazine, restraining reportage on him and his activities till further notice.
Nigerian Pilot had on April 14, formally written to the INEC chairman seeking audience with him on issues thrown up in a four-month investigation the newspaper did on his tenure as the country’s chief electoral superintendent in fulfilment of the demands of the profession.
But his solicitors instead replied the missive on April 20, asking that Nigerian Pilot acquaint them with details of its findings which the INEC chairman would respond to in writing devoid of a formal interview.
Three days after the receipt of the lawyers’ letter, the court order was given.
The Certified True Copy, CTC, of the court order which followed an ex-parte motion filed by Jega’s lawyer, A. B. Mahmoud of Dikko and Mahmoud before Justice D. Z. Senchi on April 23, reads: “An order of interim injunction is hereby granted restraining the defendants/respondents whether by themselves, their officers, privies, agents, employees or otherwise howsoever called from publication in their Nigerian Pilot Newspapers and the Nigerian Newsworld Magazine, whether print or online edition or in any medium whatsoever the libelous findings and conclusions pertaining to the plaintiff/ applicant and to have been unearthed after the defendants/ respondents’ four months period of thorough investigation and scrutiny of the plaintiff ’s activities as INEC boss referred to in their letter of April 14, addressed to the plaintiff pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed along with the substantive action now before this court.”
While the case has been fixed for May 20, for mention, Nigerian Pilot Newspapers and Nigerian Newsworld Magazine have since filed a counter suit.
In his four-point prayers, Jega asked the court to declare that the defendants so called “four months period of investigation and scrutiny” of the plaintiff ’s activities as INEC boss, which “unearthed shocking revelations of malfeasance, self-enrich and abuse of office” and the finding and conclusion reached by the defendants regarding the honesty and integrity of the plaintiff that “sharply contrast with public perception” without confronting the plaintiff with the so-called allegations or documents containing such allegations in their possession and affording him the opportunity of rebutting such allegations are malicious, in bad faith, amount to blackmail and undue harassment.
He also prayed the court to restrain the defendants, by themselves, their servants, agents or privies or otherwise however, from proceeding with the publication threatened to be published against the plaintiff in their letter of April 14, for being libelous and intended to injure his reputation.
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