Court stops Obasanjo from publishing autobiography

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A Federal Capital Territory High Court in Wuse Zone II, Abuja, has granted an order restraining former President Olusegun Obasanjo from going on with plans to publish or have someone publish on his behalf, his new autobiography titled, ‘My Watch.’

Request for the order was made by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State, Buruji Kashamu, in an ex parte application.

Justice Valentine Ashi made the order on Friday as he agreed with Kashamu’s lawyer, Alex Iziyon (SAN), that part of the content of the book related to the subject matter of the N20bn libel suit instituted by the PDP chief against former President Obasanjo.

The court restrained the former President from publishing the book, pending the determination of the libel suit instituted against him.

The content of the book was said to be related to a letter dated December 2, 2013, written by Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan, claiming that Kashamu was wanted for drug-related crime in the United States of America.

Iziyon had argued on Friday that since part of the content of the autobiography related to the December 2, 2013 letter, which is the subject matter of the libel suit, it was wrong for Obasanjo to be allowed to proceed to comment on, write books about or make publications on the issue yet to be decided by the court.

Justice Ashi, in his ruling, restrained Obasanjo from either publishing the book or have it published on his behalf by anybody, pending the determination of the main suit.

The court order read in part, “The defendant, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whether by himself, his agents, servants, privies or any other person by whatever name called and howsoever described, is hereby restrained from publishing or caused to be published in the yet to be published book, ‘My Watch’ or any autobiography or biography and any extracts of same, by whatever name called or howsoever titled, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice hereof.”

The judge further restrained Obasanjo and his agents “from further writing, printing, publishing or causing to be published or printed or circulated, or otherwise, publishing of and concerning the plaintiff, the statement contained in the Daily Sun (pages 47-49) and The Leadership (pages 3 to 8) newspapers of December 12, 2013, and which statements are alleged to have reproduced the letter written by the defendant to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, titled: ‘Before it is too late’ or similar statements pending the determination of the motion on notice.”

But the judge also directed Kashamu to enter into a bond with the Chief Registrar of the court for damages he would pay should the order restraining Obasanjo from publishing the book turned out to be something the court ought not to have been granted.

The judge asked the applicant to “execute a bond with the Registrar of the court to pay such damages as shall be assessed should it turn out that the order ought not to have been granted in the first place.”

The court adjourned hearing in the main suit till December 10.

Kashamu had, shortly after the content of the letter was widely published in electronic and print media, sued Obasanjo for alleged defamation of his character.

He argued that Obasanjo “maliciously and recklessly published a letter, titled, ‘Before it is too late,’ which contained words which he (Obasanjo) knew to be false.”

In his writ of summons, Kashamu stated that the criminal imputation made against him by Obasanjo in his letter, had injured him (Kashamu).

He is praying the court to award in his favour, and against the ex-President, N20bn for the damage he had suffered as a result of the allegation.

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