Libel: Oshiomhole Loses Bid To Stop Ortom’s Suit


From Msughshima Andrew; Makurdi

A Makurdi High Court today, dismissed the preliminary objections filed by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the APC in a N10 billion defamation suit filed against them by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.

The presiding Justice Augustine Ityonyiman dismissed the objection following a counter-affidavit and written address brought before him by counsel to Governor Ortom, Barr. Samuel Irabor.

When the case came up, counsel to Adams Oshiomole and the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr Damian Dodo, urged the court to dismiss the suit as, according to him, leave of court was not sought before service was done outside jurisdiction.

Counsel to Governor Ortom, Barr. Samuel Irabor had earlier filed a counter-affidavit and written address against the preliminary objection.

He therefore told the court that the objections of the APC National Chairman was lacking in merit as leave was granted by the High Court on the 24th of August, 2018.

He further argued that at any rate, the requirement for leave was alien to the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act, 2004 and the Benue State High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2009 as it was only required in matters filed at the Federal High Court.

After listening to both lawyers, Justice Ityonyiman dismissed the preliminary objections of Comrade Oshiomhole and the APC.

He held that the defendants, having filed a defence on the merit, were deemed to have joined issues with the plaintiff and consequently waived their right of objection.

Justice Ityonyiman therefore adjourned the suit to February 28th, 2019 for hearing.

Governor Ortom in the suit among other things, averred that Oshiomhole allegedly assassinated his character and damaged his reputation when in an APC sponsored press conference held on Friday July 27, 2018, the APC Chairman accused him of having a hand in the death of two Catholic priests and other parishioners at Mbalom community on the ground that one of the priests had preached a ‘very critical sermon’ against him (the Governor).

Some of the reliefs sought by Governor Ortom included the N10 billion suit against Oshiomole include “a declaration by the court that the Defendants’ allegations and publication of July 27 against him are false, mischievous, unsubstantiated, defamatory and libelous.

“An order directing the defendants to publish simultaneous retractions/apologies in respect of the said libelous publication against him in the Sunday editions of 10 National Dailies circulating within Benue State as well as paid advertorials to the same effect on the prime time beats of the Nigerian Television Authority, Channels Tv, TVC News, African Independent Television, Independent Television (ITV), Benin, Radio Nigeria, Radio Benue and Harvest FM.”

“An Order of Perpetual Injunction restraining the Defendants, their officers, privies, assigns, surrogates or agents whosoever called from further defaming and libeling the Plaintiff’s character and reputation and any other order(s) that the Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.”

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