Jega withdraws libel suit against Nigerian newspaper
by Adebayo Hassan
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Attahiru Jega, has asked his lawyers to discontinue a libel suit instituted against Dom Communications Limited, publishers of Nigerian Pilot newspaper, and its Editor-in-Chief, Dennis Sami.
This followed the parties’ agreement to terms of an out of court settlement.
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The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Kayode Idowu, made the disclosure on Saturday.
In the Nigerian Pilot editions of August 28 and November 25, 2013, the newspaper published stories under the caption “Exposed!: Jega’s dirty deals”. The stories contained alleged fraudulent deals the electoral chief was involved in.
But Mr. Jega denied the allegations and filed a libel suit demanding retraction as well as public apology. He also demanded N7 million as general and aggravated damages.
When the matter last came up at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on December 3, the parties informed the court that negotiations were on to resolve the matter.
According to Mr. Idowu, the parties finally agreed to terms of settlement.
Consequently, the newspaper and its Editor-in-Chief published a retraction and apology in three national newspapers, namely the Nigerian Pilot, ThisDay and Daily Trust. The publications appeared in the January 13 edition of the Nigerian Pilot, and the January 14 editions of ThisDay and Daily Trust newspapers.
One of Mr. Jega’s lawyers also confirmed that the defendants paid an undisclosed amount as part of the settlement.
With the commitment of the defendants to the terms of settlement, “Professor Jega has instructed that the action be discontinued,” Mr. Idowu said.