Buhari’s Ex-Aide Asks Court to Throw Out Ex-Gov Udom’s N1bn Defamation Suit

Buhari’s Ex-Aide Asks Court to Throw Out Ex-Gov Udom’s N1bn Defamation Suit

Alex Enumah in Abuja

Former aide to former President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, yesterday asked a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to dismiss the alleged defamation suit brought against him by the immediate-past Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Emmanuel Udom.

Enang, at the hearing of his Notice of Preliminary Objection, told the court that the former governor’s suit is incompetent, and as such, the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it.

In the suit marked CV/2058/19, and filed by his lawyer, Mr. Ekerete Udoh, the former governor alleged that Enang defamed his character when he told the media that his (Udom) administration is the worst in the history of Nigeria.

Among the reliefs he sought from the court included: A declaration “that the defendant’s false, malicious and defamatory statements made against the claimant to the public on December 29, 2018, on the platform of Lagos Talks FM (91.3) has gravely damaged the claimant’s reputation and good standing in the eyes of the public, and has further caused continuing and irreparable damage claimant’s personality, professional and political image within Nigeria and in the international community.”

The governor also urged the court for “an order compelling the defendant to pay the sum of N1 billion to the claimant as pecuniary compensation for the grave injury and irreparable damage suffered by the claimant as a result of the defendant’s false, malicious and defamatory statements made on Lagos Talks FM (91.3) and in other radio and television platforms, including but not limited to Channels Television, WAZOBIA FM, UNILAG FM (103.1), Classic FM (97.3).”

However, at yesterday’s proceedings, Enang’s lawyer, Mba Ukweni (SAN), argued his application challenging the competence of the suit and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain it.

The defendant argued that there are no necessary parties before the court, saying: “The claimant’s attorney on the face of the processes filed, Mr. Ekerete Udoh does not have the authority and capacity to initiate, institute,  prosecute and maintain the instant action on behalf of  the claimant.”

The lawyer further contended that Lagos Talk FM, the media house through which the alleged defamatory publication was made, was not joined in the case as a defendant, meaning there is no reasonable cause of action against his client.

“The alleged defamatory statement that ‘Udom’s government is the worst and fraudulent government in this country’ does not raise a cause of action in favour of the claimant for which he should maintain the present action in his personal capacity.

“The document containing the alleged libelous publication has not been front-loaded with the statement of claim in compliance with the provision of Order 2(2)(d) of the High Court of Federal Capital Territory,  (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2018,” the defendant’s lawyer added.

Ukweni urged the court to strike out the suit for being incompetent and for want of jurisdiction.

After listening to the arguments of the parties, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi adjourned to March 5 for ruling on the preliminary objection.

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