A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos has dismissed a contempt application filed by a former Minister of State for Finance, Mrs. Esther Nenadi Usman, seeking to commit the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to prison for the inclusion of her name in the ‘looters’ list’ he released to the public.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa described the application as a distraction which could interfere with the speedy determination of the matter. Usman, who is standing trial over alleged money laundering, preferred against her and a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, had argued in the contempt application that the inclusion of her name on the list released by the information minister during the pendency of the case against her was contemptuous.
She therefore urged the court to commit the Information Minister to prison for contempt of court for his alleged contemptuous action. She also submitted that Mohammed’s action undermines the integrity of the court aimed at poisoning the mind of the public against her.
But the EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to decline Usman’s application, insisting that the applicant was never referred to as a looter by the information minister, adding that what was published by some newspapers only bordered on allegations and cannot be said to be prejudicial to the applicant’s case in court.
He said: “The minister of information is not a
party to the criminal proceedings against the applicant.” There is no evidence
to show that the alleged contemnor works with the various media houses that
published the alleged offensive publication. Besides, there were no allegations
against the media houses that published the alleged offensive publication.