Court directs National Assembly to respond to The Nation Editor’s suit
The Federal High Court, Lagos, has directed the National Assembly to respond to a suit filed by The Nation’s Editor, Gbenga Omotoso and a correspondent Imam Bello within 30 days. Justice Mohammed Yunusa said the respondents should be given time to “enter appearance” before the plaintiffs’ motion for interlocutory injunction is determined.
The plaintiffs’ counsel Mr. Wahab Shittu informed the court that the respondents have been served with the order of injunction. Justice Yunusa made the order following a motion ex-parte moved by Shittu.
The order is to subsist pending the hearing and determination of the plaintiffs’ motion for interlocutory injunction. Should the motion for interlocutory injunction be granted, it will subsist pending hearing of the main suit, which seeks, among others, an order of perpetual injunction against the respondents.
The Senate had, in an August 4 letter, invited Omotoso and Bello to appear before it unfailingly over the story: Motion: 22 APC Northern senators ‘working against Buhari’ published on July 30.
The Senate wrote again on August 11, threatening to invoke Section 89 (1) (D) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to compel the applicants’ appearance.
Justice Yunusa granted an order of interim injunction restraining the respondents, whether by themselves, their members, committees or agents from summoning or directing the appearance of the applicants or any of their agents before any Senate Committee.
The court barred the lawmakers from requesting the applicants to produce any papers, notes or other documents in respect of the story.
The judge also restrained the respondents from issuing a warrant to compel the applicants’ attendance before the Senate Committee set up to investigate the publication.
Shittu, in a supporting affidavit to the motion ex-parte, said unless the respondents were restrained, there was a great likelyhood of the breach or threatened breach of the applicants’ fundamental rights to receive and impart information as guaranteed by Section 22 and 39 of the Constitution, among others.
The applicants said the publication has not been officially disputed, nor has the National Assembly issued a rejoinder to the story or made a complaint over the publication.
The Counsel said the applicants are seeking to enforce their fundamental human rights to personal liberty and freedom of expression. Justice Yunusa adjourned to October 6 for definite hearing of the motion for interlocutory injunction.