By: Oluwatosin Adesola
An Akure based legal practitioner, Femi Emmanuel Emodamori has made good his threat of instituting a legal action against the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) over its alleged defamatory comment on his person in a recent press statement signed by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Felix Olatunde, and widely published in the media on or about September 2, 2020.
The suit no: Ak/190/2020 and filed at the Ondo state High court sitting in Akure has the ZLP and Felix Olatunde as defendants.
In the case instituted by his lawyer, IFEDAYO OLANIPEKUN, the claimant, Emodamori sought “A DECLARATION that the widely published press statement issued by the 1st Defendant through the 2nd Defendant on or about 2/9/2020, wherein the Defendants described the Claimant as “… someone who claims to be a lawyer obviously acting on the prodding of some political adventurers” and that the Defendants were “aware of the clout chasing effort of those behind the lawyer in this attempt to tout an ultimatum that is futile in its entirety”, which was published by the Defendants in reaction to a letter written by the Claimant to INEC demanding that the Commission publish the personal particulars submitted by Hon. Alfred Agboola Ajayi as the candidate of 1st the Defendant for the Ondo State Governorship Election scheduled for October 10, 2020, as stipulated by law, was false, baseless, malicious and libelous of the Claimant’s character.
“An order directing the Defendants to publish a conspicuous and unreserved public apology to the Claimant in respect of the said libelous publication in both the Punch and the Nation national newspapers, within 7 days from the date of the judgment of this Honourable Court.
“The sum of One Billion Naira (N1,000,000,000: 00) as general damages for the libel of the Claimant in the said widely published press statement issued by the 1st Defendant through the 2nd Defendant on or about 2/9/2020.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants from further publishing any libelous statement about and/or concerning the Claimant.
“The Claimant avers that:
he is not, and has never been a member of any political party;
he has never contested, and will never contest for any election, for either a political office or any position in any private association;
“That the claimant has never taken any political appointment and will never take any; he has never taken a dime, either directly or by proxy, from any human being, dead or alive, to facilitate or sponsor any of his numerous public advocacy, including his demand that INEC should comply with the law by publishing the personal particulars of the candidate of the 1st Defendant for the Ondo State Governorship Election fixed for 10/10/2020, in compliance with the express provision of Section 31(3) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“As a matter of fact, the same candidate of the 1st Defendant for the Ondo State Governorship Election fixed for 10/10/2020, Hon. Alfred Agboola Ajayi, was recently a beneficiary of a similar principled public advocacy of the Claimant for rule of law, when the Claimant personally published a seven-page write up in numerous social media platforms, commending the Chief Judge of Ondo State for rejecting the premature request by the Ondo State House of Assembly to set up an Investigative Panel for his (Hon. Alfred Agboola Ajayi’s) impeachment as the Deputy Governor of Ondo State.
“The Claimant’s write up in this regard was widely published verbatim on numerous social media news platforms, and accessible online, amongst other platforms.
Olatunde was quoted to have said as a reply to Emodamori’s letter to INEC that, “the Zenith Labour Party is well aware of the attempt to create doubt in the minds of our ever-increasing members and indeed voters concerning our popular and widely accepted candidate, Hon Agboola Ajayi.
“We just read a funny ultimatum to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC by someone who claims to be a lawyer obviously acting on the prodding of some political adventurers.
“We are aware of the clout chasing effort of those behind the lawyer in this attempt to tout an ultimatum that is futile in its entirety.
“While we know that INEC is capable of taking care of itself and its operation, we state without any equivocation that our candidate was well aware of the preplanned effort now being executed hence he submitted the minimum qualification required by law.
“We state that such distracting darts have little or no effect on the growing popularity of our candidate. Several efforts in the past to hinder the political rise of our candidate have failed woefully and the current effort to hinder him will equally fail. We urge our teeming members and supporters to proceed without any fear with the ongoing mobilization and campaign efforts towards ousting the outgoing governor and the APC.
“We assure that by the grace of God and the votes of the teeming majority who are tired of the underperformance and nepotism of the outgoing governor, the ZLP will win this election fair and square and no rabble rousing litigant can change the course of history,” said Olatunde, Publicity Secretary, Zenith Labour Party.
The above alleged comment has made Emodamori to institute the suit against the two defendants.