Absence of Peterside’s Counsel Stalls Hearing on Odili’s N6bn Libel Suit

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Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The absence of counsel to the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Roland Otaru (SAN), yesterday stalled hearing on a defamation suit brought against Peterside by a former Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, before the state High Court.

The Presiding Judge and Chief Judge of Rivers State, Hon. Justice Adama Iyayi-Lamikanra, announced the absence of Otaru, and adjourned the matter to March 28, 2017, for continuation of hearing.

Odili had in the N6 billion suit, stated that Peterside, who was the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general election in the state, defamed his character in a statement credited to the defendant (Peterside) when he held a press conference after Governor Nyesom Wike’s Supreme Court victory.

He insisted that the NIMASA boss had alleged in the press conference that Wike, during his victory thanksgiving service, allegedly stated that Odili helped him to secure the Supreme Court victory.
Speaking with journalists later, counsel to Odili, Kanu Agabi (SAN), said Otaru wrote a letter to the court notifying it about his absence because of his involvement in the Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.

Agabi said: “It is normal; the defense counsel is busy somewhere. He is engaged in the Election Tribunal in Edo State. That was why he couldn’t come. I understand; sometimes, we have same difficulties ourselves.
“We will be back here on March 28. It is not deliberate; the courts are very busy. Lawyers are very busy. We hope that it will end very soon.”