Boko Haram: Sheriff Loses Suits against Borno Attorney General, Two Newspapers

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja thursday dismissed two defamation suits filed by the sacked National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ali Modu Sheriff, who claimed his character was defamed by publications signed by Borno State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kaka Shehu Lawan. Justice Z D Senchi , who delivered the judgment, also awarded cost against Sheriff.

Sheriff had sought N10 billion damages for each of the two suits he filed for alleged defamation of his character.
Lawan had in 2016 attended a legal conference in Port Harcourt during which he made presentation with respect to the genesis of the Boko Haram insurgency, alleging that as then then Governor of Borno State, certain actions of Sheriff played a key role in giving birth to the crisis.

Following media reports on Lawan’s presentation, Sheriff challenged the lawyer to publish evidence in support of his claims.

Lawan then published advertorials in two newspapers, Daily Trust and The Punch, listing “40 facts” with dated chronicles of the Boko Haram crisis which point to how alleged mishandling of events by Sheriff as Governor of Borno State between 2003 and 2011, gave birth to ongoing violence perpetuated by Boko Haram insurgents resulting in endless killings.

At resumed hearings at the high court number 19 in Jabi where a suit number FCT/HC/CV/2494/16 between the former PDP chairman and Lawan and Media Trust Ltd and a suit number FCT/HC/CV/2495/16 between Sheriff and Lawan, The Punch Newspapers & 3 others where filed by Sheriff since 2016, defence counsel to the attorney general, Femi Falana (SAN) leading A.A Alfa and Samuel Ogala, raised a preliminary objection on the competence of the two suits.
After extensive arguments, the cases were adjourned for ruling.

In yesterday’s ruling, the court upheld the objection and accordingly struck out the two cases with cost of 100,000 against Sheriff.