Obasanjo appeals ‘contempt of court’ ruling over release of his new book

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has challenged the decision of an Abuja court indicting him for contempt after he defied an earlier ruling stopping him from releasing his autobiography.

The court ruled on Wednesday that the former leader was in contempt, and gave him 21 days to demonstrate why he should not be punished.

Mr. Obasanjo said he was dissatisfied with the ruling handed by the judge, Valentine Ashi, saying the court acted in error in the first place by barring him from publishing his new book.

The former president, through his counsels, led by Gboyega Oyewole, on Thursday challenged the ruling at the Court of Appeal Abuja, on 10 grounds.

First, Mr. Obasanjo said he had completed and published his book before the judge gave his initial order.
Mr. Obasanjo also rejected the court’s order to security agencies to seize all copies of the book released on Tuesday in Lagos.

“The learned trial Judge erred in law and acted without jurisdiction in directing the police and security agencies to seize the Defendant’s book ‘My Watch’ from any vendor and directing the Defendant to show cause within 21 days on why he should not be committed to prison for contempt of court,” his lawyer said.

The judge’s earlier ruling was to the effect that the book launch be put on hold as it contained details of a libel case already before a court.

The alleged libel case involves a drug trafficking allegation made by Mr. Obasanjo against Buruji Kashamu, a leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the southwest.

Mr. Kashamu had requested the court order to stop the release of the book, citing the case.

But the move is believed to have been a cover to block Mr. Obasanjo from making public some of his most scathing assessments of President Goodluck Jonathan, as contained in the book.

Mr. Kasahmu is an ally of President Jonathan.

On Tuesday, the former president defied the court order and proceeded with the book launch saying the judge acted in error and deserved to be sanctioned.

Justice Ashi, in a ruling Wednesday, gave Mr. Obasanjo 21 days to demonstrate why he should not be punished for going ahead to publish the book.

The court also ordered the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS) and the Comptroller of Customs to recover all the books all book stands, sales agents, vendors, the sea and airports and deposit them with the court’s registrar pending the determination of the case.

Mr. Ashi said it was immaterial that the book was published before the interim orders were made.

He said Mr. Obasanjo should not have in the first place published the book since the Kashamu case was already in court.

The judge also rejected claims by Mr. Obasanjo’s lawyer that Mr. Kashamu failed to produce the book to prove it contained libellous details.

The judge said it was the duty, instead, of the defendant, in whose custody the book was, to show the court that the plaintiff’s fear was misplaced.

He said Mr. Obasanjo’s failure to do so, showed he had something to hide.


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  • Olusesan Peters

    Dear Editor:

    May God almighty – the maker of heaven and earth – bless Justice Valentine Ashi.
    His loved ones and those related to Justice V. Ashi shall get divine benedition.
    Since when Nigeria became independent i have not been as proud to be Nigerian.
    No other court judgement in Nigeria since 1960 has been this correct 100% in law.

    • Ogom

      Really, a plaintiff doesn’t have to produce the offending book in order to prove its libellous content? The court is to accept it by ‘faith’.. No need for evidence?

      That judgement is not even 3% correct in common sense, not to mention law.

      • concerned9ja

        Where goes the maxim, ‘he who alleges must prove? Nigeria and her judges!!!

    • Wähala

      You’re just a pfool… nothing more to add.

    • I Hate Sycophant Truly

      So blessing sometimes turn to curse if not from the real God. The judge err in law to have given such judgement without asking for proof. The law is straight and perfect that he who allege must also proof. The Judge refused to ask for exhibit but convenient for him to give charge and bail judgement. The ends will surely justifies the means.

  • Chris1408

    Now the legal tussle commences, the ugly general versus the drug baron. Only in Nigeria

    • Dan Arewa

      The drug baron has our president covering his ass, as such, he have the audacity to do whatever he wants. I wonder how he knows about the contents of the book without it being published int he first place. So, if you look at it closely, it looks more like Mr. Dumbo doesn’t want the book to be published because OBJ will expose more of his evils, weaknesses, classlessness and all other shortcomings (worst than any other person to rule Nigeria).

      • NwaMbaise

        What are the evils published by OBJ? You people are just talking ignorantly. Those are his opinions, almost amounting to market women gossip- Yaradua wanted to Ribadu to marry his daughter, if so nko? Is taht part of his memoir? These his opinions, have they been subjected to empirical analyses? NO. I thought when people write their memoirs, a lot has to do with their actions, achievements in life, failures in life. BUt in this book, nothing of that sort has been revealed by those who have “reviewed” it. Or was it written and rushed to be published for political gains, to hurt Jonathan and Atiku? It is full of others did this and that, and nothing done by obasanjo. If you helped someone become president, does that mean he has to surrender all the governance to you? After all, IBB and Abdulsalam ferried him into presidency from prison. Even though he settled them, they never came out criticising him, demanding this or that. It’s only this OBJ. In the civilised democracies, have you ever read of a former president criticising and villifying a sitting president even when they are not of the same party? The case of OBJ is illiteracy and greed. He claims he is still a PDP man, but still doing the bidding of APC? I know he does not chop rats, but why use his teeth to divide the rat meat for children? Analyse this for me.

  • BlackieUmukoro

    OBJ was grandstanding out of ignorance yesterday, that the judge should be sanctioned. Like he has capitulated today by going to the court of appeal. The necessary thing he should have done first. This soldiers self

  • Olasupo Akande-Davies [Lekki]

    I am not a lawyer but i am happy with my own line of trade. But that’s the problem with General Obasanjo.
    He does not accept the limits of his own standing in society as a soldier. He wants to be an intellectual.
    Not just that. He wants to be an economist, a lawyer, a foreign policy analyst, a development analyst,
    in fact, just mention it. When he goes to church he wants the microphone to preach to the Pastor.
    That is terrible behaviour resulting from his inferiority complex. He will get punished this time,
    according to the opinions of high-thinking lawyers published in Premium Times.

    • growthengine

      Double vote for you, well captured.

    • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

      You have not yet started OBJ wants to be a Pastor,he wants to be a university Prof,he wants to be a hunter,he wants to be a playboy,he wants to be an Oracle,he even wants his own son’s wife .
      The man’s greed knows no limit !!

      • mike

        Don’t worry Mr Tawanda your difficult job of defending a bad government will soon come to an end. Then you shall have rest.

    • I Hate Sycophant Truly

      He who allege must also prove, where did he get the content of the book from if not yet released or published. All this charge and bail lawyer must be committed to jail to clean our judicial system. Is Buruji or cronies witches to know a content of yet to be released article? The era of grandstanding must end.

  • Wähala

    Where the compromised Justice erred is in expecting the defendant to prove his innocence…
    How did Buruji know he was defamed in a book that was not yet published before he ran to court?
    Where was Justice Ashi when the DSS defied a court order and raided APC’s data center a second time?
    Where was he when IGP Suleiman Abba, raided the House of Reps against another court order to maintain status quo?
    Fact is, Nigeria’s justice system by itself is criminal. A place where citizens pay for transportation of the police to the crime scene. A dysfunctional country where even the President disregarded a court order to release Sanusi’s passports for months. So, if the current President does not obey the Law, a past President cannot be expected to obey the same Laws… Goes to justify my assertion that Nigeria is the King of 3rd. World. Animal Kingdom. Justice Ashi is an animal without common sense, in Ibo lingua ‘ashi’ means “lie” and the robed clown is nothing but a pfoolish liar selling justice to a wanted drug baron. So much for honor in the legal profession… a bunch of musty clowns in dirty horse-tail wigs.

    • NazirJos

      You know bro our justice system at certain high order has become a whip of PDP. If you defy them they nail your ass and pin you to cross…what a grim! The good news is that people come and go, but office remains forever. Eventually those who abuse public offices will leave, if good guys come, it’ll be a new world.

  • Galare I. N

    The book is already in public domain,so the court case irrelevant. Even during military era,we still have a way of buying Tell,The News & Tempo magazines. In fact,they have given OBJ grand publicity.