Senator Buruji Kashamu, representing Ogun-East senatorial district of Ogun State in the National Assembly, has withdrawn his N20.1 billion suit filed before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja against former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The suit which was instituted on the grounds of libel on May 26, 2015 was struck out by presiding judge, Justice Valentine Ashi, because of the notice of discontinuance filed by the plaintiff.
The decision to withdraw the suit by Senator Kashamu is said to be based on “an ongoing settlement talks” between himself and the former President. Lawyers representing Obasanjo have however denied having any knowledge of such settlement talks.
It would be recalled that the senator had sued the former President on February 6, 2014 for “maliciously and recklessly” publishing a letter addressed to former President Goodluck Jonathan, who was then incumbent, in December 2013 titled ‘Before it is too late.’
Senator Kashamu had prayed the court to award him the sum of N20 billion as recompense for aggravated and exemplary damages and another sum of N100 million for maliciously portraying him as a fugitive wanted in the United States of America for drug related offences.
Befoire the sudden decision to withdraw the suit, Kashamu had already called two out of his three proposed witnesses. According to the witnesses, Haruna Rasheed and Omotayo Alade-Fawole, they testified that Obasanjo’s letter that was published had portrayed Kashamu in a bad light and destroyed many years of business relationship with him.
Kashamu had earlier asked the court, before he could call his third witness, on December 5, 2014 to restrain Obasanjo from going ahead with public presentation of his book “My Watch.” He based his plea on the grounds that the subject matter of libel was touched on in the book. Obasanjo however shunned the court order and did a presentation of the book in Lagos State on December 9, 2014.
Justice Ashi in a ruling held Obasanjo in contempt for flouting the orders of the court after Kashamu had returned to the court to file a report that Obasanjo had shunned the court order. The presiding judge directed various security agencies to seize the copies anywhere they were found. The judge also gave Obasanjo 21 days to show the court a reason why he should not be punished for contempt.
Following counter arguments by Obasanjo’s lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), the judge lifted all bans against Obasanjo in an April, 2015 ruling. Before Kashamu put a stop to the proceedings, they were to resume on the libel suit.