On Monday, the Rivers State High Court Holden in Port Harcourt, restrained Alhaji Lai Mohammed from any further mention of Prince Uche Secondus, National Chairman, People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the Minster of Information’s recently released looters list.
The trial Judge and Chief Judge of River state, Justice I. A. Iyayi-Lamikanta, granted the order for one of two prayers in a motion by Prince Secondus, seeking interlocutory injunction in restraining the defendants from further publishing the libelous content.
In Suit PHC/1013/2018, Secondus is suing Lai Mohammed along with Federal Government and Vintage Press, for N1.5Billion, as damages for alleged libel of the PDP chairman when his name was listed as a looter to the extent that he collected N200Million on 19 February 2015 from the office of then National Security Advicer.
Neither the defendants nor their counsels were present in the opening hearing yesterday before the Judge adjourned till April 28, but Plaintiff’s counsel Emeka Etiaba (SAN) hoped all parties show up on the next date so the court can hear the merits of the case.
Etiaba told newsmen shortly after the court session that,
“There is truth in what they (defendants) published, so I can understand why they are not in court, but by the time the restraining order comes, maybe they will take us more seriously.
But we have told Nigerians this is one case of executive recklessness which comes up once in a why. We hope at the end of the day, we prove to Nigerians that this is nothing but a gimmick, a ploy to destroy the PDP and its leadership because of the 2019”
On the second prayer denied by the Judge, Etiaba said,
“The court was minded to believing that that prayer deals with publications that go beyond the ones that had our plaintiff’s name. The court felt no, it is at large and cannot be granted, but with are happy with the one granted.”
Aside the claim of payment of N1.5Billion to Prince Secondus as damages in the substantive suit, the Plaintiff is also pleading the court that defendants retract the libelous material in as many media as they published it among other claims.
Ahead of the adjourned date, the court ordered that the Plaintiff’s counsels serve the defendants hearing notice, same way they served them the originating processes and the accompanying documents in the newspaper.
“We will also serve them vide the newspapers and also deposit same in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation,”
Etiaba who also had in the Plaintiff’s team a senior colleague, Emeka Okpoko (SAN) among others, added.