Justice Valentine Ashi of an Abuja High Court has struck out a suit by chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Buruji Kashamu, against former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The judge struck out the case after Kashamu filed an application to discontinue the suit.
He claimed that parties were engaged in on-going settlement moves, a claim Obsanjo’s lawyer denied knowledge of.
Kashamu had on February 6, 2014, sued Obasanjo, asking the court to award N20bn as aggravated and exemplary damages, and another N100m against the former President for “maliciously and recklessly” publishing a letter titled, ‘Before it is too late’, addressed to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in December 2013.
The PDP chieftain had sued Obsanjo for libel in relation to the claims in the letter to ex-President Jonathan that he (Kashamu) is a fugitive wanted in the United States for drug-related offences.
Trial had progressed in the case, with Kashamu calling two of his three intended witnesses, Haruna Rasheed and Omotayo, Alade-Fawole.They claimed that the publication of Obsanjo’s letter in the media portrayed Kashamu in bad light.
Proceedings were later stalled in the substantive case when Kashamu on December 5, 2014 prayed the court to grant a restraining order against Obasanjo, stopping him from proceeding with the scheduled public launch of his new book titled: “My Watch,” on the grounds that the subject of the libel suit was contained in the book.
Despite the order of December 5, however, Obasanjo proceeded to launch the book on December 9 in Lagos. Kashamu returned to the court on December 10, with a complaint to the effect that Obasanjo breached the December 5 order by proceeding to launch the book.
Justice Ashi, in a ruling, held that Obasanjo was in contempt of court for flouting his orders restraining him from among others, publishing the book. The judge gave Obasanjo 21 days (from the day of service of the court’s orders on him) to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt for going ahead to publish the book in spite of the ex-parte interim order made by the court on December 5 and a pending libel suit before the involving him (Obasanjo).
The judge later lifted all orders against Obasanjo in a ruling delivered in April following counter arguments by Obasanjo’s lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN).