Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
A Makurdi high court presided over by Justice Augustine Ityoyiman will on July 11 rule on the application brought before it by counsel to the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Adams Oshiomhole in the libelous suit instuted against him by Benue Governor Samuel Ortom.
Governor Ortom had dragged the APC National Chairman to court over a press conference in which Oshiomhole is claimed to have made libelous statements against his the Benue governor.
When the case came up Friday, counsel to Ortom, Samuel Irabor, who appeared in court with two witnesses, told the court that he was ready to go on, but that he was served with a motion on notice on Thursday by the counsel to the APC National Chairman, which he has responded to.
However, counsel to Oshiomhole, Festus Jumbo, told the court that the application is praying the court to strike out the suit for failure of the governor to join the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Vanguard Media Limited, publishers of the Vanguard Newspaper, and other print and social media platforms in the suit.
Responding, Irabor told the court that the case can be decided between Governor Ortom, Chairman Oshiomhole and the APC without joining the NTA, Vanguard Media and various social media platforms.
He told the court that Oshiomhole has owned up to the allegation and said he sourced his information from third parties which included leaders of Benue State APC and a NGO, but added that the names of the said APC leaders were not stated.
He argued that since Oshiomhole had pleaded justification and fair comment, there was no need to drag the NTA and Vanguard Media into the matter.
Governor Ortom’s counsel contended that the issue for determination was in regards to allegations by Oshiomhole and APC against the governor to the effect that he had a hand in the death of the two catholic priests, and claims of mismanagement of bailout funds in Benue State as alleged by Oshiomhole in his press conference of July 27, 2018.
He prayed the court to dismiss the application and award cost against Oshiomhole for wasting the time of the court as they are already done with pre-trials and the business of the day was the hearing of the substantive suit, which he is ready with his witnesses.
After listening to the submissions of the lawyers, presiding Judge Ityonyiman fixed July 11 for ruling on whether NTA and Vanguard Media should be joined in the suit, award cost or to continue with the substantive case.