An Abuja High Court has restrained former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, from publishing or have someone publish on his behalf, a new autobiography titled: ‘My watch.’
Justice Valentine Ashi made the restraining order last Friday following an ex-parte application filed and argued by Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), a lawyer of a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Buruji Kashamu,
Iziyon had argued that the content of the book is related to issues contained in Obasanjo’s letter to President Goodluck Jonathan and a former PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur December 2, 2013 , where he (Obasanjo) claimed that Kashamu was allegedly a fugitive, wanted in the United States.
He contended that since the content of the letter was the subject of the libel suit his client filed against Obsanjo, which is still pending before the court, it was wrong for the ex-president to be allowed to proceed to comment on, write books about or make publications on the issue yet to be decided by the court.
Justice Ashi, in a ruling, restrained Obasanjo from either publishing the book or have it published on his behalf by anybody, pending the determination of the main suit still before the court.
“The defendant, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whether by himself, his agents, servants, privies or any other person by whatever name called and howsoever described, is hereby restrained from publishing or caused to be published in the yet to published book, ‘My watch,’ or any autobiography or biography and any extracts of same, by whatever name called or howsoever titled, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice hereof,” Justice Ashi said.
The judge further restrained Obasanjo and his agents “from further writing, printing, publishing or causing to be published or printed or circulated, or otherwise, publishing of and concerning the plaintiff, the statement contained in the Daily Sun, (pages 47-49) and The Leadership Newspapers (pages 3 to 8 ) on December 12, 2013, and which statements are alleged to have reproduced in the letter written by the defendant to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria titled: ‘Before it is too late’ or similar statements pending the determination of the motion on notice.”
The judge ordered the applicant to “execute a bond with the Registrar of the court to pay such damages as shall be assessed should it turn out that the order ought not to have been granted in the first place.”
He adjourned hearing on the main suit to December 10.
Kashamu had, shortly after the content of the letter became public, sued Obasanjo for alleged defamation of character.
He argued that the defendant (Obasanjo) “maliciously and recklessly published a letter titled: ‘Before it is too late,’ which contained words which he (Obasanjo) knew to be false.”
In his writ of summons, Kashamu stated that the criminal imputation made against him by Obasanjo in his letter has injured him (Kashamu).
He is praying the court to award in his favour, and against the ex-president, N20 billion for the damage he has suffered as a result of the allegation.
The PDP Chieftain also claimed against the Obasanjo as follows:
*A declaration that the words complained of and published by the plaintiff against the defendant in a letter titled: ‘Before it is too late’, addressed to President Jonathan and dated December 2, 2013, which inter-alia carried criminal imputation against the plaintiff and published in several newspapers on December 12 is defamatory to the person of the plaintiff.
*An order awarding the sum of N20 billion only to the plaintiff against the defendants as aggravated and exemplary damages against the defendant for libel falsely and maliciously published by the defendant against the plaintiff in the said letter.
*An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, his agents, servants or privies from publishing or further publishing or cause to be published any defamatory words against the plaintiff to any person or persons; and the sum of N100 million as cost of this action.