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Minister Fayemi loses libel suit in Abuja court

Minister Fayemi loses libel suit in Abuja court

- Kayode Fayemi, the mines and steel development minister, reportedly lost the case he filed against two people in an Abuja court

- The minister alleged that he was diminished by a statement made by two officials of Ekiti state

- The court agreed that the case lacked jurisdiction

A suit filed by Kayode Fayemi, the mines and steel development minister, has been dismissed by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja presided over by Justice AO Ebong, Premium Times has reported.

The libel suit with number CV/577/2016 was filed against Lere Olayinka, the spokesperson to Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state as well as the chairman of the information committee of the House of Assembly, Samuel Omotoso.

The report quoted the judge as declaring: “Based on the facts as pleaded by the plaintiff in this suit, I am unable to accept that there was defamation of the plaintiff (Fayemi) in the FCT, as no publication of the defamatory materials is shown to have taken place within the FCT.

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“For that reason, this court cannot exercise jurisdiction in respect of the instant suit. The case is consequently struck out for want of territorial jurisdiction.”

The judge, who agreed with the defendants, said Fayemi was supposed to have shown that the statements in question were published within the FCT.

“On his part, the plaintiff relying on the case of Dairo v Union Bank of Nigeria Plc supra, amongst others contends that jurisdiction in respect of libel is governed by the fact of publication.

“Thus, the place where libelous matter is published is the appropriate venue for trial of the case.

“And where the publication occurs in different places the courts in each of such places would have jurisdiction. In such cases it is submitted the plaintiff has a right to choose which of those courts he would bring his claim in,” he said.

The minister, who sought the payment of N3 billion for aggravated damages, said the duo brought disrepute to his name through statements they made on July 6, 2016, during a live programme tagged Ejiire on Ekiti state television.

The two, the minister alleged, claimed he illegally collected N5 billion from a new generation bank in the name of Fountain Holdings for a sham road construction.

However, the counsel to the defendants, Ola Olanipekun, filed a notice of preliminary objection, asking the court to strike out the suit because it lacked jurisdiction.

“It is trite that a court in one state cannot hear and determine a matter which lies exclusively within the jurisdiction of another state.

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“The cause of action and/or the wrong complained of by the plaintiff occurred in Ekiti state which is clearly outside the jurisdiction of this honorable court.

“The 1st and 2nd defendants in the suit reside and carry out their businesses in Ekiti State which is outside the jurisdiction of this court,” Olanipekun. earlier reported that Kayode Fayemi was recently summoned by the judicial commission of inquiry set up by the government of Ayodele Fayose to probe alleged fraud committed under the immediate past administration in the state.

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