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Abuja Court throws out Fayemi N3bn libel suit against Fayose’s media aide, Ekiti assembly member

By Lere Olayinka
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A High Court in Abuja has dismissed a N3 billion libel suit filed by
the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi,
against the Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose's spokesman, Lere
Olayinka and the Chairman, Information Committee of the Ekiti State
House of Assembly, Dr Samuel Omotoso.

Justice A. O. Ebong dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction,
saying; “Based on the facts as pleaded by the plaintiff in this suit,
I am unable to accept that there was defamation of the plaintiff
(Fayemi) in the FCT, as no publication of the defamatory materials is
shown to have taken place within the FCT. For that reason, this court
cannot exercise jurisdiction in respect of the instant suit. The case
is consequently struck out for want of territorial jurisdiction.”

Fayemi, who is also a former governor of Ekiti State had filed Suit
Number CV/577/2016 before the High Court of the Federal Capital
Territory, Abuja, claiming that the duo of Olayinka and Omotosodants
brought disrepute to his name through statements allegedly made by
them on July 6, 2016, during a live programme tagged Ejiire on Ekiti
State Television, which also aired on cable network, Startimes.

Fayemi, who accused Olayinka of saying that he (Fayemi) illegally
collected N5 billion from Ecobank in the name of Fountain Holdings for
a sham road construction, sought payment of N3 billion for "aggravated
damages" he claimed was caused him by the defendants.

His lawyer, Rafiu Balogun, said through the alleged statements, the
defendants (Olayinka and Omotoso) portrayed him (Fayemi) as a "very
corrupt public office-holder and fraudulent person who siphoned public
funds at the detriment of Ekiti citizens while serving as governor."

However, Olayinka and Omotoso had through their counsel; Ola
Olanipekun (SAN) filed notice of preliminary objection, praying the
court to strike out the suit for want of jurisdiction and/or
competence.

Olanipekun said; “It is trite that a court in one State cannot hear
and determine a matter which lies exclusively within the jurisdiction
of another State.

“The cause of action and/or the wrong complained of by the plaintiff
occurred in Ekiti State which is clearly outside the jurisdiction of
this honorable court.

“The 1st and 2nd defendants in the suit reside and carry out their
businesses in Ekiti State which is outside the jurisdiction of this
court.”

Agreeing with the defendants' preliminary objection, Justice Ebong
said it was incumbent on Fayemi to have shown that the statements in
question were published within the FCT. He went further to state that
for the court to have jurisdiction, the plaintiff (Fayemi) must show,
nt merely that the defamatory matter was published to the whole world,
but that someone within the FCT has read or watched the alleged
defamatory statements.

Responding to the judgment, Olayinka said; “It is funny that someone
like Dr Kayode Fayemi, under whose government Ekiti treasury was
wantonly looted could still have the effrontery to go to court for
libel. I wished he was put in the witness box and cross examined so
that pertinent questions bordering on his mis-governance of Ekiti
State will be asked.”

Also in his own reaction, Dr Omotoso said; “That Fayemi could still go
to court claiming that his character, which he lacked in the first
place was assassinated show that those claiming to be fighting
corruption in Abuja are just wasting their time, or at best, fighting
the opposition. In saner climes, Fayemi won't be walking the streets
free for superintending over the looting of Ekiti treasury.”