Law News
Court adjourns Tinubu’s N150bn libel suit against AIT

A Lagos State High Court in Ikeja has adjourned further hearing till May 27, 2015, in the N150bn libel suit filed against Africa Independent Television by a national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Bola Tinubu.

Tinubu had sued Daar Communications Plc, owner of AIT for allegedly defaming him through a documentary tagged “The Lion of Bourdillon,” aired severally by the station in the buildup to the just concluded general elections.

“The Lion of Bourdillon,” which the television station commenced airing on March 1, 2015, chronicled alleged fraud and public misconduct of Tinubu as a former governor of Lagos State.

Tinubu, who complained that the documentary was targeted at impugning him, had, through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), secured an order of interlocutory injunction restraining AIT from further airing the documentary on April 1, 2015.

At the resumed proceeding on Thursday, the lawyer, who represented Tinubu, Mr. Ayodele Adedipe, told the presiding judge, Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe, that his client had filed Forms 17 and 18 and had served them on the defendant.

Responding, counsel for AIT, Mr. Jeffery Kadiri, confirmed that his client had been served, adding that he was still within the stipulated 42 days period to respond to the applications.

Kadiri also informed the court that his client would be filing a counter-claim and join issues with the claimant, adding that a long adjournment was needed to ensure that all processes could get into the court’s file.

Akinkugbe consequently granted his request and adjourned the matter for further direction to enable parties to proceed to the stage Pre-Trial Conference where they can attempt to settle the matter without going through full trial.

The lead counsel for AIT, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), had on April 1 argued that contents of “The Lion of Bourdillon,” were facts which had been in the public domain for over two decades and published independently prior to the broadcast.

Backing up his argument, Ozekhome had exhibited previous publications on Tinubu, which he said had neither been unchallenged nor contradicted till date.

According to him, AIT had the social duty to scrutinise public officers, including Tinubu, who was a former senator and governor of Lagos State for two terms.

While he maintained that it was part of AIT’s responsibilities to inform the public appropriately to allow them to make informed decisions in the just concluded elections, Ozekhome, however, said his client had since March 6 stopped airing the documentary on his advice.

But he urged the court to dismiss the applicant’s case, saying he had not shown any cause to merit the damages he was seeking.

Meanwhile Olanipekun contended that AIT could not be justified that it had continued to broadcast the documentary on the grounds that most of its contents were already on the Internet or in the public domain as it claimed.

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