The Supreme Court of the state of New York has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, against SaharaReporters and its publisher, Omoyele Sowore.
Mr. Obanikoro, a former senator, and former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, alleged that Mr. Sowore and his media group committed libel by implicating him in the Ekiti State election rigging scandal and by allegedly reporting that he “killed many people in Lagos.”
The former minister argued in court that the reporting by Mr. Sowore and his website harmed his reputation in both Nigeria and the United States.
The former senator sued Mr. Sowore in New York, where the headquarters of SaharaReporters is located.
Mr. Sowore’s counsel, Robert Balin, moved for dismissal of the case on the grounds of non conveniens, meaning that another court – in this instance, a Nigerian court – would be better suited than the one in New York to hear the case.
The defendant argued that since the alleged offences were committed in Nigeria, a Nigerian court should ideally hear the case.
Mr. Sowore’s lawyers also argued that all the pertinent documents and witnesses are in Nigeria, not New York.
Justice Debra James subsequently granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case, saying the matter should be resolved in a Nigerian court.
The judge ruled that the case being ”highly political in nature, the Nigerian government has a compelling interest in resolving this matter through its judicial process.”
“Accordingly, it is ordered that the motion to dismiss this complaint on the ground that New York is an inconvenient forum is granted and the complaint is dismissed with costs and disbursements to defendants upon submission of an appropriate bill of costs,” the judge said in her ruling.