The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Adams Oshiomhole and his party has lost a N10 billion defamation suit filed against them by Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom.
Comrade Oshiomole had through his lawyer, Damian Dodo, SAN, on the 6th November 2019, filed a preliminary objection to the suit stating that they were resident in Abuja and the press conference which gave rise to the suit was also held in Abuja and a such, the Court lacked territorial jurisdiction to entertain the suit as it ought to have been instituted at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
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But Ortom’s lawyer, Samuel Irabor argued that by Order 3, Rule 4 of the Benue State High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2007, a suit can be commenced where one of the Defendants is shown to be resident or carries out business within the jurisdiction of the court.
However, the trial judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyinman dismissed the objection.
The trial Judge agreed with the counterarguments of Irabor that by paragraph 2 of the governor’s statement of claims, he gave facts that the APC carried out the business of political participation, interest aggregation and mass mobilization through its Benue Chapter office located at No. 73, J. S. Tarka Way, Makurdi.
Justice Ityonyinman also agreed with further argument of Irabor that the press release was published in Vanguard newspaper of 27th July, 2018 and the said newspaper circulated within the jurisdiction of the Honourable Court and that these averments in the governor’s statement of claims were never controverted by the Defendants in their statements of defence and are deemed admitted by virtue of Section 123 of the Evidence Act, 2011.
The court eventually rejected the preliminary challenge for lack of merit before adjourning the suit for trial to begin on February 14, 2020.