Odili Slams N6bn Libel Suit against Peterside

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Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, has dragged the state All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the 2015 election, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, before the state High Court for defamation, demanding N6 billion as damages.

At the sitting of the court yesterday presided over by the state Chief Judge, Justice Iyayi-Lamikanra, neither the defendant, Peterside, who is currently the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) nor his counsel was present.

 Odili had, in the suit, demanded N6 billion damages from Peterside for defamation, which arose from a statement credited to him when he held a press conference after Governor Nyesom Wike’s Supreme Court victory.
Peterside was said to have alleged at the press conference that Wike, during his victory thanksgiving service, stated that Odili helped him to secure the Supreme Court victory.

Odili contended that Dakuku’s statement was false and malicious, and that he misrepresented and twisted what Wike said at the thanksgiving service.
At the court yesterday, Odili, led by his lead counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN), entered the witness box and adopted his witness statement.

On the absence of Peterside in court, Agabi told the trial judge that the defendant was duly served and that there was proof of service.
Justice Iyayi-Lamikanra adjourned the matter to October 27 for further hearing.
Addressing journalists shortly after court proceedings, the complainant’s counsel, Agabi insisted that the defendant was “properly” served.

He explained: “We sued for libel. And we called our first witness. And we have adjourned for cross examination to  October 27. We felt defamed by their (defendant) publication and we are here to vindicate ourselves.
“You could see that the defendants were not in court, but they have been served, they have been properly served. The court would not have proceeded otherwise.”