A former junior minister of Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, on Friday lost out in a defamation suit he filed against PREMIUM TIMES and Sahara Reporters.
Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of the Ikeja Division of the Lagos High Court ordered Mr. Obanikoro to settle the matter against the media organizations at the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) within seven days.
“This is a case of defamation and the parties involved should settle at the ADR within seven days and give this court a progress report on the next adjourned date,” said Mrs. Ipaye.
The judge adjourned the matter to April 7.
Mr. Obanikoro had sued the two news organizations, as well as Punch newspapers; Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters; and Festus Owete, General Editor at PREMIUM TIMES, for their reports implicating him in the Ekiti State governorship election rigging scandal.
The former minister claimed that the defendants had published defamatory articles that caused him “political and personal losses” and sought damages amounting to N1 billion.
In his suit, Mr. Obanikoro sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from publishing defamatory, damaging, offensive, or degrading statements against him.
He further sought an order of the court compelling the media houses to retract all the damaging articles against him by publishing an apology in their respective media.
He also filed a similar suit against Sahara Reporters in New York where the company’s headquarters is located, accusing the medium of harming his reputation in Nigeria and the United States.
Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court of the state of New York dismissed the defamation suit, directing that the matter be resolved in a Nigerian court.
Last year, Mrs. Ipaye delivered a ruling describing the former minister’s application in his suit at the Lagos High Court as lacking in merit.
“There is nothing before the court that shows the applicant will suffer more harm if the injunction is not granted,” Mrs. Ipaye said in April 2016.
“It is an error to seek to restrain a publisher of an article on the grounds of libel if there is no proof before the court that such material is libelous.
“I am persuaded that this application has no merit and an injunction is not appropriate in the circumstance.”