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N500m libel suit: Court refers Olisa Metuh, Lai Moh’d to ADR

A Lagos High Court Judge sitting in Ikeja has directed Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, and the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh to engage the process of mediation at the Lagos Multi-Door courthouse concerning their ongoing litigation over an alleged libel.

The presiding judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye, stated that the progress report of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) will determine a trial date for the suit.

Counsels to the two parties were advised to comply with previous directive and return to court on 13th June, 2016.

Ipaye also added that when the status of the suit at the ADR is available, the court could begin to give a trial date.

Recalled that Lai Mohammed through his lawyer, Mr. Wahab Shittu had dragged Olisa Metuh to court demanding for N500 million over a widely circulated press statement on September 20, 2015, which contained alleged libelous materials, entitled: Assault on democracy: ‘Address issues’ – PDP replies APC… Insists democracy sliding under Buhari.

Metuh had described Mohammed as “being ethically challenged” and “embezzling funds meant for fencing of an airport in an APC-led Southwest state”.

He also accused the Minister of “fraudulently refusing to supply ambulance after collecting money from another APC Southwest state.”

In his statement, Metuh added: “It is then a comedy of roles when Alhaji Lai Mohammed speaks on corruption, a topic he practices and has well learnt, being personal aide to one of the most corrupt politicians to ever bestride the political landscape of the country.”

In the suit, Mohammed prayed for an order directing the defendant to publish an apology to him and retract the libelous material in a widely read newspaper for seven consecutive days.

He also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining Metuh, his cronies, or any newspaper/magazine from further publishing or disseminating the libelous materials or something similar which the court did not grant at previous hearing.

However, the claimant’s lawyer, Shittu, informed the court that he is applying for trial while the respondent’s lawyer, U.A Otoahine applied for an extension to file processes.

According to Otoahine, he is seeking the court indulgence to give more time to file two applications dated 25th Day of April, 2016 pursuant to 44 Rule 4 of High Court of Lagos State Procedure Rules.

He added that this is needed for his client’s to prepare his statement of defence, statement of oath and other documents.

He further stated that the other application dated 26th Day April, 2016 needed to be filed are counter affidavit and written address.

The judge hinted that the respondent’s request does come with statutory penalty. She reiterated, “Proceed to the ADR for mediation, let us engage the process first.”

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