Oshiomhole Loses Bid To Stop Ortom’s Libel Suit

Pius Angbo  
Updated January 10, 2019
Adams Oshiomhole                                                                                                                    Samuel Ortom


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

Justice Augustine Ityonyiman gave the ruling when the case came up in court on Thursday in the Benue State capital.

Counsel to Oshiomole and the APC, Mr Damian Dodo, urged the court to dismiss the suit, praying that the leave of court was not sought before service was done outside jurisdiction.

But counsel to Governor Ortom, Mr Samuel Irabor, told the court that the objections of the APC National Chairman were lacking in merit as leave was granted by the High Court on August 24, 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.

Irabor had earlier filed a counter-affidavit and written address against the preliminary objection.

Ruling on the matter, Justice Ityonyiman 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.

He, thereafter, dismissed the preliminary objections of Mr Oshiomhole and the APC, and adjourned the suit until February 28 for hearing.

Governor Ortom in the suit among other things averred accused Oshiomhole of assassinating his character and damaged his reputation in an APC sponsored press conference held on July 27, 2018.

He alleged that 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 Ortom included the N10 billion suit against Oshiomole and “a declaration by the court that the defendants’ allegations and publication of July 27 against him are false, mischievous, unsubstantiated, defamatory and libelous.”

Others are, “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.”