June 12 Struggle: Osoba Finally Institutes Libel Suit against Okurounmu, Seeks N3bn Damages

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Idowu Sowunmi

A former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, has sued an Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okurounmu, over alleged libelous publications made against him.

Osoba, through his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), dragged Okurounmu before the state High Court sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital at the weekend.

Apart from asking the defendant to retract the controversial publications in two national newspapers, the former governor was also demanding a sum N3 billion as aggravated and exemplary damages.

The legal action was fallout of newspaper interviews published in July in which Okurounmu described Osoba as a “traitor and double-faced politician” who betrayed the acclaimed winner of June 13, 1993 presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola.

Osoba’s lawyer had, shortly after the publications, given Okurounmu 14-day ultimatum to comply with his demands.

In a July 23 letter, Olanipekun had declared that the words employed by the Afenifere chieftain in defaming his client were weighty and far-reaching.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria claimed that his client’s “hard-earned reputation” has been seriously dented and damaged by the publications, while “he has also suffered considerable distress and embarrassment.”

He, therefore, demanded a retraction of the said interviews and a public apology to be published on the front pages of seven consecutive editions of the concerned newspapers.

In a writ of summons obtained by THISDAY over the weekend, Osoba asked the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from further publishing libelous publications against him.

The former governor also sought an order directing the defendant to render and tender an unreserved apology to him “for the said malicious and libelous publications.”

According to the writ, the claimant claims against the defendant a sum of N3 billion on the footing of aggravated and exemplary damages for the libelous and malicious publications made by the defendant in the Daily Independent Newspaper and Saturday Sun Newspaper, respectively published on Thursday, July 11 and Saturday, July 20, 2019.

“An order directing the defendant to make and render an unequivocal retraction of the said malicious publications afore-quoted on the front pages on seven consecutive editions of both the Saturday Sun Newspaper and Daily Independent Newspaper.

He is also seeking: “An order directing the defendant to render and tender an unreserved apology to the claimant for the said malicious and libelous publications. “An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, either by himself, servants, privies, agents or acting through any person or persons howsoever or through any means or channels whatsoever from publishing or further publishing, disseminating or further disseminating, granting newspaper interviews or further granting any interviews howsoever in furtherance of his continuous uttering, disseminating or causing to be disseminated, libelous publications against the claimant,” the writ partly
read.