The ₦5 billion libel suit filed by the Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, against John Mayaki, former spokesman of the Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) Media Campaign Council in the September 19, 2020 Edo State Governorship election, could not proceed further on Wednesday at a Benin High Court following moves to settle the matter out of court.
When the case came up for hearing, counsel to Mayaki, Austin Osarenkhoe, informed the court that his client had reached the plaintiff (Mr. Igini) to opt for settlement. Osarenkhoe, therefore, asked the court for time to enable the parties settle the matter out of court. Igini’s Counsel, Christian Omatsone, did not oppose the defence lawyer’s oral application. Consequently, the presiding Judge, Justice Victor Ozeigbe Oviawe adjourned the suit to June 21, 2021 for report of settlement.
Recall that Igini had instituted the action following publications which alleged that he had a secret meeting with Governor Godwin Obaseki with a plot to rig the September 19, 2020 governorship election. Mayaki had also earlier offered a personal public apology to Igini, admitting to the false allegation against him. In the suit, the REC described the allegation as malicious, reckless, mischievous and with intent to destroy his hard-earned reputation. He said the suit was necessitated by the failure of the defendant to comply with his protest letter dated August 31, 2020 demanding a retraction of the said publications.
Igini demanded for a full page unreserved apology to be published in every edition of the Punch Newspapers, Tribune, Guardian and the Sun newspapers for seven consecutive times commencing not later than seven days after the judgment of the case.
He also prayed the court for a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, privies and or servants howsoever called, from further publishing same or similar words defamatory against him. He said he had the permission of the authorities of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to maintain the suit and vindicate his name.
Joined in the suit are Vanguard Media Limited, the African Newspaper of Nigeria Plc, the publisher of the Nigeria Tribune, and the Sun Publishing Limited, as co-defendants.
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