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Court Declines IBD Dende’s Request To Stop Fisayo Soyombo, FIJ From Publishing Reports About Him

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A federal high court in Abuja has rejected a request by businessman Ibrahim Egungbohun, also known as IBD Dende, to restrain Fisayo Soyombo, founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), from publishing additional reports about him.

Egungbohun had filed a lawsuit against Soyombo and FIJ over an undercover report published in February 2024, titled “Undercover as a smuggler.”

In the report, Soyombo exposed the ease of illegally importing goods into Nigeria by attempting to smuggle 100 bags of rice from the Republic of Benin, highlighting the country’s porous borders.

The court’s decision allows FIJ to continue publishing reports about Egungbohun.

The journalist highlighted how he transported the bags of rice without resistance from security operatives after using information provided by some officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

In the report, Soyombo described IBD Dende as the “biggest smuggler” in Ilaro, a town in Ogun state.

He also published a video where IBD Dende was threatening to kill a customs officer during an altercation.

Angered by the investigative report, IBD Dende filed a defamation suit against Soyombo, FIJ, and Arise Group after the television station broadcast the documentary.

At the resumed hearing on July 2, Binta Mohammed, the judge of the federal capital territory (FCT) high court, listened to the application for interlocutory injunction for an order to restrain the defendants from further defamatory publications against him.

  • The Arguments

In his written argument, the counsel of IBD Dende averred that the first and second defendants consistently defamed and maligned the character of his client.

The counsel claimed that Soyombo published statements about IBD Dende as recently as June 3, while the case was before the court.

The counsel said the investigative journalist is subjecting his client to a social media trial.

He averred that it had become imperative for the court to grant an injunction to halt the “continuous and daily defamatory publications” against the person of the claimant, pending the final determination of the suit.

The counsel said the right to freedom of expression under the constitution does not permit any journalist to defame a character.

On the video published by Soyombo, the counsel argued that the video was nothing more than a “verbal altercation” with customs officers.

The counsel said it cannot be concluded from the video that the incident was about smuggled goods belonging to IBD Dende.

He added that his client is a licensed customs clearing and forwarding agent, whose job it is to provide assistance to get goods transported into and out of Nigeria.

In the written argument submitted on behalf of Soyombo and FIJ, the counsel argued that the press is duty-bound to expose wrongdoing.

The counsel said the press must not be subjected to censorship or curtailed.

The FIJ counsel argued that IBD Dende, who had admitted under oath to assaulting law enforcement agencies, did not deserve an equitable relief of injunction to restrain the press.

The counsels closed their arguments, and the court reserved the ruling on the application for interlocutory injunction for a later date to be communicated to the parties.

Soyombo and FIJ have also filed a defence to the main suit, along with a list of witnesses to be invited to testify.

The witnesses include one Rotimi Awoyemi, the customs officer who was allegedly threatened in the video published by FIJ; Bashir Adewale Adeniyi (MFR), comptroller-general of customs; and Hussein Ejigbunu, whom IBD Dende reportedly mentioned in the viral video.

IBD Dende also listed two witnesses: himself and Oba Akintunde Akinyemi, the traditional ruler of Iselu, Yewa north LGA, whose written statement on oath was filed in support of the statement of claim.

BIG STORY

President Tinubu Signs South-East, North-West Development Commission Bills Into Law

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President Bola Tinubu has officially signed into law the South-East and North-West Development Commission bills.

The South-East Development Commission bill was sponsored by Deputy Speaker Benjamin Kalu, who represents the Bende Federal Constituency of Abia State.

After passing through the Senate and House of Representatives, the bill was transmitted to the President in June for his assent.

With the signing of the bill into law, the Commission will now receive funding to execute various projects in the South-East geopolitical zone.

The allocated funds will be used to address environmental challenges such as erosion, as well as reconstruct and rehabilitate roads in Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, and Anambra states.

This move is expected to bring significant development and infrastructure improvements to the region.

In a statement issued by Levinus Nwabughiogu, his chief press secretary, Kalu expressed appreciation to the president for signing the bill into law.

The deputy speaker said the commission will “rehabilitate Igbo land” and foster unity among the people.

Tinubu also signed the north-west development commission bill into law.

Jibrin Barau, deputy senate president and sponsor of the bill, said the signing of the proposed legislation is a “testament” to Tinubu’s “commitment to addressing the challenges facing the north-west geopolitical zone and indeed all parts of the country”.

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Wike Urges Nigerians To Be Patient With FG, Says Planned Protest Political

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Nyesom Wike, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has dismissed the upcoming nationwide protest as a politically motivated move.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday during an inspection of the Karshi to Apo Road construction project, Wike expressed his views on the planned protest.

The youth-led protest, scheduled to begin on August 1, aims to draw attention to the country’s economic hardship and soaring inflation.

However, Wike believes that the protest is driven by political interests rather than a genuine concern for the welfare of Nigerians.

According to Wike, the government is actively working to address the country’s challenges, implying that the protest is unnecessary and potentially disruptive.

His comments suggest that the government is making efforts to mitigate the economic difficulties faced by Nigerians, and that the protest may be an attempt to undermine these efforts.

“Let’s tell ourselves the simple truth. If we are playing politics let’s say we are playing politics; if we want to be sincere to ourselves, let’s be sincere to ourselves and help our country,” NAN quoted Wike as saying.

“The country is rotten. You know that the country is rotten, and a government has just come to see what it can do to at least, move it from where we are to a certain level, and you say that miracle must be performed within one year.

“You are here now, we are talking about a project that was awarded 13 good years ago, what has happened? Nothing.

“Now a government has come to see how it can fix all these things and we are in too much of a hurry demanding that it must be done now.

“It is not possible. The protest is a political protest.”

The minister acknowledged that people are unhappy due to hunger and unemployment.

“So, let’s not listen to political protesters and political jobbers who just want to be popular. You know there are some people who believe that if they don’t criticise, they will not be popular,” he said.

“We are going to elections very soon; these are political gimmicks.

“Just know that the government is a serious government and working to solve the problem.

“We believe that things will turn around, but we should be patient with the government.”

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Republican Lawmaker Andy Ogles Files Articles Of Impeachment Against Kamala Harris

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US Republican Lawmaker Andy Ogles has introduced two articles of impeachment against Vice President Kamala Harris, citing her alleged failure to enforce immigration laws.

Ogles accuses Harris of deliberately neglecting her duties as “border czar,” particularly in regards to border security and immigration law.

The first article of impeachment highlights Harris’ supposed inaction in addressing the border crisis, while the second article alleges a “breach of public trust.”

Ogles claims that Harris knowingly misled the public and Congress about President Joe Biden’s physical and cognitive health, sparking concerns about her integrity and ability to perform her duties as Vice President.

Ogles’ move to impeach Harris marks a significant escalation in the political tensions surrounding the Biden administration’s immigration policies and the Vice President’s role in addressing the border crisis.

The articles also claimed that Harris had been incompetent in discharging her duties.

Ogles’ first attempt to impeach Harris last year was unsuccessful and stalled in the judiciary committee.

The lawmaker’s second trial comes 48 hours after Biden withdrew from the presidential race and endorsed Harris to take his place for the Democratic Party’s ticket.

Biden’s shaky debate performance against former President Donald Trump last month, which heightened concerns over his age and mental alertness, was the catalyst for Democrats’ calls for him to end his reelection campaign.

The Democrat has not formally announced Harris as the party’s flagbearer. If nominated, she would be the first Black and South Asian woman to be a major party nominee.

On Monday, the presidential hopeful raised more than $81 million in donations to her cause.

The amount is believed to be the largest 24-hour fundraising in the history of the US presidential campaign.

Ogle’s impeachment calls have not received support from any member of Congress.

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