• Newspaper opens defence
•Magu, EFCC boss, to testify
The Publisher of The Abuja Inquirer Newspapers, Dan Akpovwa, has said the libel suit instituted against the publication by the former Presidential Adviser on the Amnesty programme, Kingsley Kuku, is frivolous, and aimed at intimidating media.
Akpovwa said at the Abuja High Court when hearing resumed in the case of Kingsley Kuku Vs The Abuja Inquirer (Suit No. CV/263/15).
Justice Jude Okeke of Abuja High Court 12 is the presiding judge.
Kuku ran the Amnesty programme under President Goodluck Jonathan. His tenure had come under serious investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In mid`2015, he was invited by the EFCC as part of its ongoing investigation, but Kuku failed to show up. His lawyers wrote to the EFCC that he was in America for medical reasons and would honour their invitation by September 30, 2015, but he has not done that for almost two years now.
Led in evidence by Bassey Offiong, the lead counsel for the Abuja Inquirer Newspapers, Akpovwa said his newspaper is not guilty in the case.
Also, in his statement under oath, which was admitted in court, Akpovwa said: “The words complained of by the plaintiff were neither libelous nor slanderous, but well considered and made in the public interest.”
Under cross-examination by Kuku’s lawyer, C. Okorie from the Chambers of Karina Tunya (SAN).
Akpovwa insisted that the publication of the story was driven by pure public interest and not for any financial gains, pointing out that that fact that Kingsley Kuku has not returned to Nigeria to answer the EFCC invitation buttresses the story.
Akpovwa was the first defence witness called by Offiong, and was cross examined for nearly two hours.
He urged the court to dismiss the suit “with costs for being frivolous, vexatious” and an abuse of court process.
He also asked for N5,000,000 in “general damages.”
The case was adjourned to March 14 where the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu is expected to testify for the defence.