Alleged libel: Igini, Akwa-Ibom REC, slams N10b suit on Imuse, Mayaki

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, Barrister Mike Igini has slammed a N10b libel suit on David Imuse, the factional chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State and John Mayaki, Chairman, Edo State APC Media Campaign Council.

Edo State APC factional Chair, David Imuse

In separate writs of summons in suits numbers B/555/2020 and B/556/2020 filed today at a Benin High Court by his Counsel, Clement Onwuenwunor, Igini is demanding N5b as aggravated damages each from the APC factional chairman and John Mayaki, respectively.

Joined in the suit are Vanguard Media Limited, the African Newspaper of Nigeria Plc, publishers of the Nigerian Tribune and the Sun Publishing Limited as co- defendants.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner is also demanding 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.

Besides, he is praying the court for a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, privies and or servants howsoever called from further publishing same or similar defamatory words against him.

The Akwa Ibom REC alleged that on August 30, 2020, in the run-up to the just-concluded governorship election in Edo State, 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

John Mayaki, Chairman, Chairman, Edo State APC Media Campaign Council.

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,” Onwuenwunor averred.

“The claimant states that the defendants’ publications complained of have greatly injured his credit, character, reputation, electoral impartiality and have, therefore, brought him 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.”

Igini denied all the allegations leveled against him at the press conference, saying 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.

Akwa-Ibom REC stated that the suit became necessary following the failure of the factional chairman of APC to comply with his protest letter dated August 31, 2020 demanding the retraction of the said publications.

He said he had the permission of the authorities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to maintain the suit and vindicate his name.

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