Defamation: Court strikes out Peterside’s application to stop Odili’s suit

NIMASA MD Dakuku Peterside

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has struck out an application by the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, seeking to stop a N6 billion defamation suit brought against him by former the governor of the state, Dr. Peter Odili.

Odili had claimed that Peterside, who was the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in 2015, had defamed through a statement allegedly made by the defendant (Peterside).

The former governor had insisted that Peterside had stated in a press conference that Governor Nyesom Wike said that he (Odili) helped him (Wike) to secure election victory at the Supreme Court.

Odili had prayed the court that Peterside, the defendant in the matter, should pay him N6bn as damages.

However, Peterside had filed an application to the court seeking to stop the libel suit brought before the court.

But ruling on the application on Monday, the presiding judge, Justice Adama Iyayi-Laminkara, pointed out that the defendant’s claim that the notice of the suit was served him through a wrong address did not hold any water.

According to Justice Laminkara, there is no difference between the defendant’s address and the address where the notice was served.

Awarding the cost of N40,000 against the defendant in the matter, she also ruled that the court had jurisdiction to hear the suit.

The matter was, however, adjourned till February 23, 2017 for further hearing.

Speaking with journalists after the court session, counsel for Peterside, Roland Otaru (SAN), explained that other steps would be taken to make sure that the court set aside its October 11, 2016, ruling where it ordered a substituted service to them.

According to Otaru, “Our challenge of the Court processes was struck out, but that does not matter. The Court has its discretion, either to grant or dismiss.

“That is what the law says. So, we will take other steps if desirable. I cannot say that we are going on appeal now. You can see that I continued with cross-examination of the witness. We are affected by the decision of the court.

“Once a decision is taken, one of the parties must be affected. We were asking that the court should set aside the proceedings of October 11, 2016. There is no problem about that. The judge has the discretion to grant or not to refuse.”

Also, Kanu Agabi, SAN, counsel for Odili, said he was optimistic that the suit would continue in earnest after the dismissal of the application.

“They challenged the jurisdiction of the court, but the judge ruled that the processes were duly served and the case should proceed. We have proceeded with the cross-examination,” Agabi added.

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