Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
A Makurdi High Court presided over by Justice Augustine Ityonyiman has dismissed the preliminary objections filed by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the APC in a N10 billion defamation suit filed against them by the Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.
When the case came up, on Thursday, Counsel to Adams Oshiomhole and the APC, Damian Dodo, prayed the court to dismiss the suit saying the governor did not seek leave of court before service was done outside jurisdiction.
However, Counsel to Governor Ortom, Barr. Samuel Irabor, who had earlier filed a counter-affidavit and written address against the preliminary objection, told the court that the objections of the APC National Chairman was lacking in merit as leave was granted by the High Court on August 24, 2018.
Irabor argued further that at any rate, the requirement for leave was alien to the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act, 2004 and the Benue State High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2009 as it was only required in matters filed at the Federal High Court.
In his ruling, Justice Ityonyiman held that the defendants, having filed a defence on the merit, were deemed to have joined issues with the plaintiff and consequently waived their right of objection.
He, thereafter, dismissed the preliminary objections of Comrade Oshiomhole and the APC, and adjourned the suit to February 28, 2019 for hearing.
Governor Ortom in the suit among other things, averred that Oshiomhole allegedly assassinated his character and damaged his reputation when in an APC sponsored press conference held on Friday July 27, 2018, the APC Chairman accused him of having a hand in the death of two Catholic priests and other parishioners at Mbalom community on the grounds that one of the priests had preached a ‘very critical sermon’ against him (the governor).
Some of the reliefs sought by Governor Ortom included the N10 billion suit against Oshiomole include “a declaration by the court that the Defendants’ allegations and publication of July 27 against him are false, mischievous, unsubstantiated, defamatory and libelous.