A High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Monday restrained the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed from further mention of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, in the recently released looters list.
Trial Judge and Chief Judge of Rivers 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 libellous content.
The PDP chairman, in Suit PHC/1013/2018, 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, alleging he collected N200m on 19 February 2015 from the office of the then National Security Adviser.
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 no 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 we are happy with the one granted. Justice is two ways” 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 libellous 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”, added Etiaba who also had in the Plaintiff’s team a senior colleague, Emeka Okpoko (SAN) among others.