Leah Sharibu’s Uncle Dies
From Emmanuel OGEBE
The family of captive Christian schoolgirl Leah Sharibu, the sole remaining hostage of the Dapchi mass abduction, was thrown into mourning on the loss of her great uncle while she is still in Boko Haram captivity. The brother of Leah’s grandmother died suddenly and was buried this week in a tragedy reminiscent of the Chibok saga when some schoolgirls returned from captivity to find over two dozen parents and relatives had died during their captivity.
Leah’s grandmother who had been in Dapchi consoling her daughter on Leah’s abduction herself had to leave for Maiduguri for the burial of her late brother. Also in attendance at the funeral was Leah’s mother only recently returned from Abuja.
Incidentally Leah’s grandmother had been on standby last weekend to receive Leah following another false alert that Leah was to be released the previous Friday or Saturday while her mother was away at a prayer gathering in Abuja.
She had been alone at home to receive Leah’s only other sibling who had returned from school on break. The young boy (name withheld) was attending a boarding school in another northeast town when his elder sister Leah was abducted from her boarding school in Dapchi. It was young Master Sharibu’s first time coming home to the sad reality of his missing sister Leah.
COURT HEAR’S CHIBOK DEFAMATION LAWSUIT
A High Court in Nigeria’s capital Abuja began hearings today in a defamation lawsuit filed by international Human Rights Lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe against the Federal Government of Nigeria arising from escaped Chibok escapes whom he sponsored to school in the US.
The trial which experienced numerous delays since it was filed over a year ago stems from a press conference held by Nigeria’s Minister for Women Affairs Aisha Alhassan in which she claimed Barrister Ogebe took the girls to US under the guise of taking them to school but didn’t so but rather used them for money.
In January 2017, Mr Ogebe sued Ms. Alhassan and the Federal Government of Nigeria for $2 million damages for injury to his reputation and an additional $5 million for aggravated damages.
The plaintiff who was present in court from the US was led in evidence by his counsel Barrister David Ogebe of Ogebe, Ogebe Legal Practitioners Lagos appearing with Godwin Abarike Esq of 247 Law Chambers Abuja. The Nigerian Government was represented by counsel from the Attorney General’s office while neither Aisha Alhassan or the ministry of Women’s Affairs were present or represented in court.
Human Rights Lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe began by identifying himself and tendering documents referenced in his witness statement. These included the following online media reports of the news conference of the 2nd and 3rd Defendants
(a) The Cable News online report of 09 September 2016;
(b) Premium Times online News Story as published on allafrica.com website also of 09 September 2016;
(c) Anadolu Agency online publication of 09 September 2016 as published on the aa.com news website.
(d) 247UREPORTS Website on 18 September 2016
The plaintiff tendered a copy of his response to the defamatory publications and identified a photograph of a Nigerian diplomat with the Chibok girls at the school in which he placed them. The picture was discovered on a gofundme.com website.
Mr Ogebe closed his testimony by praying the court to clear his good name which had been brutalized by the reckless and irresponsible abuse of office by Aisha Alhassan Minister for Women Affairs.
Counsel for the Attorney General declined to cross examine the plaintiff and presented no defense in the case. The presiding judge adjourned the case till May 30th for further hearing.
It will be recalled that Aisha Alhassan had previously asked the court to dismiss the libel lawsuit claiming protection by the Public Officers Protection Act. However on March 1, the court dismissed her preliminary objection stating that:
“In the instant case, the Plaintiff has pleaded malice, lack of fair hearing, bad faith and continuing damage or injury all of which are exceptions to Section 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Act relied upon by the 2 nd and 3rd Defendants in this preliminary objection. [See the cases of OFFOBOCHE v OGOJA L.G. (2001) 16 NWLR (Pt. 739) 458 at 485, paras. A – D; HEAD OF FEDERAL MILITARY GOVT. v
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION & ANOR EX PARTE MACLEAN OKORO KUBEINJE (1974) 11 SC 79 at 125; and A-G RIVERS STATE v A-G BAYELSA STATE (supra)]. This being the case, I must, in line with the trite legal position stated in A-G of RIVERS STATE v. A-G BAYELSA STATE & ANOR. (supra): OKITO v OBIORU (supra):
MUHAMMED v A.B.U. ZARIA (2014) 7 NWLR (PT. 1407) 500 at 534; and AGBAI v UKPABI (supra) 16 NWLR (PT 1434) 538, hold that the 2nd and 3 rd Defendants cannot at this preliminary stage of the proceedings be entitled to the protection provided under Section 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Act, since the Court must take evidence to determine whether or not any of the allegations of malice, lack of fair hearing, bad faith or continuing damage or injury constitute exceptions to the provision of Section 2(a) of the Act relied upon in this objection.
It is in the light of the above that I hereby discountenance the preliminary objection on ground of Section 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Act raised by the 2nd and 3 rd Defendant and hold that in view of the pleadings of malice, lack of fair hearing and continuing damage or injury contained in the Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim, the objection should be embodied by the 2nd and 3rd Defendants in their pleadings to be determined at trial along with the substantive suit.” (See full ruling attached)
The case has been adjourned to May 30th at High Court 27 Jabi.
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