Court rejects IBD Dende’s request to stop FIJ publications

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CourtThe  Federal High Court in Abuja has declined the request of businessman Ibrahim Dende, alias IBD Dende, seeking to compel investigative journalist and founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, ‘Fisayo Soyombo, from further writing anything about him.

The request came up as part of Dende’s lawsuit against Soyombo and FIJ

after he was portrayed as a “smuggler and gunrunner” in an undercover investigation by the journalist, titled  ‘Undercover As A Smuggler’.

Dende, on May 3, 2024, instituted a defamation lawsuit against Soyombo and FIJ, joining Arise Group as a co-defendant, for airing Soyombo’s smuggling documentary.

At the resumed hearing on July 2, Justice Binta Mohammed of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja  listened to IDende’s application for interlocutory injunction to restrain the defendants from further making  defamatory publications against him.

Dende contended that the smuggling documentary video made by Soyombo showed nothing more than a “verbal altercation” with Custom officers and it could not be concluded that it was about smuggled goods belonging to him.

IBD Dende stated that he is a licensed custom clearing and forwarding agent whose job duty is to provide assistance to get goods transported into and out of Nigeria.

In opposition to IBD Dende’s application for injunction, FIJ affirmed the truth of its publications on IBD Dende and prayed the court to dismiss the application, arguing that it was unconstitutional in form and effect, as it sought prior restraint of the press and had a stifling effect on press freedom.

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

From a certified true copy of the court’s proceedings of May 21, it was discovered that IBD Dende had previously approached the court to grant an ex parte order restraining Soyombo, FIJ and Arise from further defamatory publication before service of the court processes on them. The court declined to hear the application and instead directed the claimant’s counsel to put the defendants on notice.

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