By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in charge of Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini has filed N10 billion deformation suit against the factional Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Mr. John Mayaki, Chairman, Edo State APC Media Campaign Council over ‘false and damaging publications’ against him without any reticence for fair hearing.
Vanguard Media Limited, the African Newspaper of Nigeria Plc, the publisher of the Nigeria Tribune and the Sun Publishing Limited as co- defendants which were all listed in a separate writ of summons in the suit marked: B/555/2020 and B/556/2020, was filed on Monday before a Benin High Court.
The suit which was filed by Mr. Edwin Okonedo and Mr. Clement Onwuenwunor, on behalf of the Claimant (Igini), is seeking the sum of N5 billion as aggravated damages each from the APC factional Chairman and John Mayaki respectively.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, also demanded for a full page unreserved apology to be published by the duo 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 recalled that on August 30, 2020 during the just concluded governorship election Campaigns, the APC factional Chairman and chairman, Edo State APC Media Campaign Council addressed journalists at a press conference titled, “Press conference on Governor Godwin Obaseki’s criminal attempt to infiltrate INEC officers like Mr. Mike Igini” in Auchi in Etsako West local government area.
Igini, averred that the press conference which was published in the three national newspapers with different headlines such as , “APC accuses Akwa Ibom REC, Igini of meeting Obaseki secretly, and INEC REC, Igini, plotting with Obaseki to rig election- APC”, was malicious, reckless, mischievous and with intent to destroy his well-earned reputation.
“The publications have dented the image of the claimant and people who erstwhile held the Claimant in high esteem, have lost confidence in him and now avoid him
“The claimant states that the defendants’ publications complained of have greatly injured his credit, character, reputation, electoral impartiality and has been brought into hatred, ridicule, odium and contempt of the right thinking members of the society.
“The claimant states that in consequence of the defendants’ published words, the claimant has been subjected to continuous ridicule and his global electoral integrity as an umpire has been adversely affected and could not be considered for special assignments in Edo State for the 2020 governorship elections like his other colleagues”,he averred.
While denying all the allegations leveled against him at the press conference, he, however, added that he stopped over at Protea Hotel, Benin City on August 24, 2020 for refreshments in company of his two other colleagues on his way to Delta state for a burial ceremony.
He opined that the suit become necessary following the failure of the factional chairman of APC to comply with his protest letter dated August 31, 2020, demanding for the retraction of the said publications.
He said he has the permission of the authorities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to maintain the suit and vindicate his name.
The suit is yet to be assigned to a Judge as at the time of filing this report.