SALAMIGATE: FAGBEMI SUES ONI, 2 OTHERS FOR ALLEGED LIBEL
Notable lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) has slammed a N5billion libel suit against former Ekiti State Governor ,Chief Segun Oni, the acting Chairman of Osun State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Otunba Sunday Ojo-Williams and Western Publishing Company Limited, Publishers of Nigeria Compass newspapers.
In the writ of sermons, the legal luminary is claiming damages for alleged defamation and libel published by the defendants concerning him in the Compass Newspaper issue of February 22, 2011 wherein they allegedly falsely and maliciously accused him of involvement in underhand dealings through telephone contacts with the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Salami, during which the plans to fraudulently pervert the course of justice in the Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial election petition appeals in which judgments were delivered in October and November 2010 respectively were hatched.
The chambers of Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN) and S.O. Ajayi (Esq) who are lawyers to Fagbemi in the suit said that on page 1 of the Nigerian Compass newspaper of February 22, 2011 the defendants printed and published a story under the banner headline: 'Salami, Tinubu's men named in Appeal Court Phone Scandal, PDP, Oni submits call logs to NJC. Appeal Court President, I'm not bothered .'
Declaring that the story continued further on pages 6, 9,12 and 50 of the newspaper, the defendants falsely and maliciously published,concerning the claimant the following words: 'In separate petitions to President Goodluck Jonathan and the chairman of the NJC dated January, 14 and 16, 2011 respectively and signed by former governor of Ekiti State ,Mr. Segun Oni and Otunba Sunday Ojo-Williams, the acting chairman of Osun State chapter of the PDP, the party informed the judicial body that while the Appeal Court was hearing the Osun and Ekiti cases , Salami and one of his men named Tunji Ijaya were allegedly having sizzling romance with chieftains and senior lawyers of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
'The petitions also contained names and telephone numbers of six Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs),who represented the ACN in Osun State and Ekiti cases but were shown in their call logs as having telephone contacts with Justice Salami before, during and after the judgments.'We are confident that the National Judicial council is more than capable of drawing the appropriate inferences and the right conclusions from these suspicious interactions between members of the bar (whose cases were being heard by the Court of Appeal) and the president of the self same court. We strongly believe that the invidious plan to snatch victory by fraud was hatched in the course of those illicit interactions .
'From the month of September 2010 up to October 2010 when the judges wrote and delivered the judgment in Ekiti and up till January this year, Justice Salami, Justice Jauro and the said agent, Ijaya, were in close contact by voice or SMS with counsel to ACN candidate and officials of the party. I believe the unethical communications were directed at the invidious act of the perversion of the course of justice and to achieve the pre-determined purpose of removing me from office.