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Court reserves judgment in Chime's N1.5bn suit

15 October 2014, 17:31

Lagos - The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Tuesday reserved judgment in an appeal filed by Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State challenging the judgment of a Lagos High Court in a libel suit he filed.

Chime had instituted a N1.5 billion libel suit against Okechukwu Ezea, his opponent in the 2007 gubernatorial election and The Guardian Newspapers Ltd.

Chime had instituted the suit claiming that defamatory remarks made by the first respondent about his person were published by the national daily.

However, Justice Kazeem Alogba of the lower court dismissed the suit for lack of merit and awarded a cost of N100, 000 against the appellant.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, the governor through his counsel, Dr Gbolahan Elias (SAN), appealed against the decision of the lower court.

The appellate court presided over by Justice Rita Pemu reserved judgment after counsels had adopted their briefs of arguments.

Adopting his brief of argument, Fred Onuobia, counsel to Chime, urged the court to allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the lower court.

He submitted that the lower court erred in law when it held that the appellant failed to prove that the first respondent uttered the defamatory statements complained of at a press conference in Abuja sometime in August 2007.

Onuobia also said that the lower court, in its judgment, jettisoned and attached no weight to the Vanguard newspaper publication tendered because the daily was not sued as publisher of the defamatory statements.

The appellant further submitted that the lower court erred when it held that the words published in The Guardian newspaper were incapable of defaming the appellant.

Chime, therefore, wants the appellate court to allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the lower court.

Also read: I won’t impose candidates - Chime

In his brief of argument, Dr Joseph Nwobike (SAN), counsel to the first respondent, urged the court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the judgment of the lower court.

Nwobike submitted that the lower court was right when it held that the appellant failed to prove that the first respondent actually uttered the words complained of at that press conference.

He further argued that the appellant did not adduce evidence at the lower court to support and substantiate his allegations.

According to Nwobike, the lower court found as a fact that the words complained of, even if interpretable to be defamatory, did not actually lower the appellant's status nor disparage him in his office or political standing.

He urged the court, on the strength of the arguments canvassed, to resolve all the issues in favour of his client and dismiss the appeal.

After listening to the submissions of counsels, Justice Augie reserved judgment to a date that will be communicated to the parties.

Chime had instituted the libel suit against his opponent in the election when he addressed a press conference in Abuja and accused the governor of plotting to kill him.   



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