Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has filed an application before the state High Court, seeking the discontinuation of the ongoing trial against the publisher of DAILY NIGERIAN, Jaafar Jaafar over the Dollar videos published on the online news platform.
In October 2018, DAILY NIGERIAN had published video clips of the governor stuffing bundles of dollars, suspected to be a bribe from a contractor, in his pockets.
The governor, subsequently, sued the newspaper publisher, asking the court to declare that “the act of publishing and circulating libellous statements, false video clips on online media, attacking and impugning the character and integrity of the Plaintiff amounts to defamation of character of the Plaintiff by the Defendants”.
But in an application, dated June 28, 2021, Mr Ganduje’s lawyers, led by Chief E.O.B Offiong, SAN, sought the following orders from the court:
“…An order granting leave to the Plaintiff/Applicant to discontinue his claims in Suit No K/519/2018 against the defendant before this Honourable Court.
“An order discontinuing Plaintiff/Applicant’s claims in Suit No K/519/2018 against the Defendant in this Honourable.
“And for such further or other Order(s) as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance of this case.”
The application, supported by a four-paragraph affidavit deposed to by C. N. Obile Esq stated that “the matter is yet to proceed to trial and the Plaintiff/Applicant now intends to discontinue this action before this Honourable Court.
“That by the Rules of this Honourable Court, where a defence has been filed and a plaintiff wishes to discontinue his action, leave of court is required to discontinue, hence this Application.”
Threats to Mr Jafar’s life
While the case was still on, the governor, during an interview with BBC Hausa on March 19, disclosed that he was making plans to deal with those who released the videos.
Mr Jaafar, subsequently, wrote a petition to the then Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, raising an alarm over renewed threats to his life.
Ever since the governor’s threat, the publisher said he had been noticing unusual movements around both his Abuja and Kano residences, prompting him to go into hiding.
In what looked like a renewed vigour to crack down on Mr Jaafar, on April 19, 2021, armed policemen stormed the Abuja head office of the newspaper in search of its publisher.
When the team of police officers, numbering four, could not find Mr Jaafar, they then dropped a letter inviting him for questioning over alleged defamation of IGP’s character.
In the letter signed by ACP A. A. Elleman, the head of the recently-disbanded IGP Monitoring Unit, said that “This office is investigating a case of Criminal Conspiracy, Defamation, Injurious Falsehood and Inciting Violence to the Inspector General of Police in which your name featured.
“In view of the foregoing, you are kindly requested to interview the undersigned on Monday 19th April 2021 by 10.00am prompt through SP Usman Garba (Admin Officer) to shed more light on the allegation.
“Your cooperation in this regard would be highly appreciated, please,” part of the letter reads.
Responding from his hideout, Mr Jaafar had said he learnt on good authority that the police were planning to file “cybercrime charges” against him for exposing the governor’s corruption.
“The issue of defamation of IGP’s character was merely a red-herring to cow me into submission. I wrote nothing against both the current and immediate past IGP. The real issue is that they assembled their charges against me for exposing a corrupt public official.
“The curious aspect in the letter is that it was delivered on the 15th April, 2021, hours after the unit investigating the matter was disbanded by the new IGP. So they backdated the letter for one day to legitimise their action.
“It is sad that the same police that gave me protection to testify before Kano State House of Assembly, is the same police that are now after me,” Mr Jaafar added.