Edo election: INEC chief files N10bn libel suit against APC chieftains

Mike Igini

By Jethro Ibileke
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in charge of Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini, has dragged the factional chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Edo State, David Imuse and the chairman of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu campaign council in the September 20 governorship election in the state, John Mayaki, before a Benin City High Court, demanding the sum of N10 billion over alleged libel.
Igini, in a separate writ of summons with the suit numbers B/555/2020 and B/556/2020, filed on Monday, by Barrister Edwin Okonedo, on behalf of his counsel Clement Onwuenwunor, demanded the sum of N5 billion as aggravated damages  each from the APC factional chairman and John Mayaki respectively.
Also joined in the suit as co-defendants are Vanguard Media Limited, African Newspaper of Nigeria Plc, publisher of Nigerian Tribune and the Sun Publishing Limited.
Igini also demanded for a full page unreserved apology to be published by the duo in every edition of the Punch Newspapers, Tribune, Guardian and tmSun 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.
According to the REC, 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 hard-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, Igini 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 becomes 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 go ahead with the suit to clear his name.