Court orders Aribisala to halt advertorials
A Federal High Court in Lagos has granted an order restraining a senior advocate of Nigeria, Chief Ajibola Aribisala from further publishing contemptuous advertorials or pre-empt the decision of the court in relation to a suit he instituted against Premium Steel and Mines Limited and six others.
Justice Mohammed Idris gave the order while ruling on a contempt proceeding filed against Aribisala by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and its former Director-General, Mustafa Chike-Obi.
AMCON had prayed the court through its counsel, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN) to commit Aribisala to prison for alleged contempt of court committed in connection with the proceedings in the suit.
Aribisala (as Receiver and Manager of Delta Steel Company Plc) had instituted suit No- FHC/L/CS/721/2015 against Premium Steel and Mines Limited, Prasanta Mishra, Karuna Karan, AMCON, Mustafa Chike-Obi and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Aribisala is challenging his removal by AMCON as Receiver Manager of Delta Steel Company Plc.
He is also challenging the sale of DSC to Premium Steel and Mines Limited.
However, while the matter was still pending in court, Aribisala allegedly published an advertorial in two national newspapers on the subject matter before the court.
Consequently, AMCON through Nwobike in a Motion on Notice brought pursuant to Order 35 Rule1 (1) of the Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 urged the court to commit Aribisala for contempt of court.
Nwobike argued that the conduct of the respondent in publishing to the whole world by his advertorials in two national newspapers was contemptuous of the power of the court.
Nwobike submitted that the publications were designed to negatively influence the course of trial and were meant to deprecate the applicants.
But in his reply, Aribisala argued that the public notice did not qualify as contemptuous.
In his ruling, Justice Idris held that the alleged contemnor had the intention of overreaching the powers of the court when he published damaging advertorial on issues submitted to the court.
The court held that: “Not only has the publications overreached the confidence reposed in this court by the general public, they have in effect eroded the control the court has over the facts and issues submitted for determination.”