By Joe Nwankwo – Assistant Editor, Abuja
–Says ‘he was misled’
A judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Valentine Ashi, has vacated his earlier orders restraining former-President Olusegun Obasanjo from among others, publishing, printing or offering for sale, his autobiography: “My Watch.”
The judge, in a ruling on Tuesday, upheld the argument of Obasanjo’s Counsel Kanu Agabi, SAN, that the court was misled into granting the orders given on December 5 and 10, 2014. Justice Ashi vacated the orders on the ground that the applicant, Buruji Kashamu, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) suppressed facts from the court to obtain the order.
The court had granted the orders on December 5 last year, wherein it restrained Obansajo from publishing his book in the country pending the determination of a libel suit brought against him by Kashamu.
Kashamu, who sued Obsanjo for libel in relation to the claims in a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan that he (Kashamu) is a fugitive wanted in the United States, had moved the court to grant the earlier restraining order of December 5 on the ground that the subject of the libel suit was contained in the new book by Obasanjo.
Despite the order of December 5, Obasanjo proceeded to launch the book on December 9 in Lagos, a development that prompted the court to make the orders of December 10.
On March 23, Agabi, while arguing Obasanjo’s application with which he sought the vacation of the orders, had argued that the court wrongly applied the law in reaching its decision. Agabi, who served as Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) under President Obasanjo, argued that it was wrong for the court to grant a restraining order against a party in a libel case, who pleaded justification.
He contended that the court should have first determined whether or not the publication complained about was libelous before restraining Obasnajo from engaging in further publication.
Agabi, who cited some authorities to support his argument, contended that “the point at which he can be restrained is when he is unable to prove his plea of justification.”
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