Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
A Rivers State High Court presided over by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Adama Iyayi-Laminkara, has adjourned to November 29, a hearing on a libel suit brought against the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, by former Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili.
Odili had in the N6 billion suit accused Peterside, who was the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general election in the state, of defamation of his character by a statement made after Governor Nyesom Wike’s thanksgiving service after his Supreme Court victory.
Odili said Peterside alleged in the press conference’s that Wike during his victory thanksgiving service, stated that he (Odili) helped him to secure the Supreme Court victory.
Odili stated that what the APC governorship hopeful said was false and malicious, as Wike never made such inference, but that Peterside twisted and misrepresented what the governor said.
At the first hearing on the suit on October 11, neither Peterside nor his counsel was in court.
But at the resumed hearing yesterday, counsel to the NIMASA boss, Rowland Otaru, who stated that they were not in court on October 11 because they were not properly served, prayed the court for an adjournment to enable them file their defence.
Lead counsel to Odili, Kanu Agabi (SAN), however did not oppose the prayer for adjournment but insisted that the defendant was properly served. Speaking with journalists later, Otaru said: “We are not aware that the matter had been on because we were not served. It was sent to a wrong address and we will address the issue later.
“We are coming back on November 29 but before then, we are going to fill the necessary court papers. As I said before, this is a libel suit, so, we should be given a fair hearing.”
Speaking with journalists also, lead counsel to Odili, Kanu Agabi (SAN), said, “Well, the court obliged the defendant’s request to come back for defense. I am happy that the defendant is coming back to defend his actions.”