A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory will today begin hearing in the suit filed against former vice-president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, seeking N40 million damages for alleged libel against President Muhammadu Buhari and his family.
In the suit filed on January 22, 2019, by the 2nd plaintiff, Malam Gidado Ibrahim, the plaintiffs are praying the court to order Atiku to pay N40 million for alleged libelous claims published on December 27, 2018, to the effect that President Buhari and members of his family own substantial shares in telecoms giant, 9mobile, and Keystone Bank, respectively.
Hearing in the suit was on Tuesday February 25 stalled following the failure of the defence counsel to appear in court, prompting the court headed by Justice Binta Mohammed to adjourn the case again to March 17 for hearing.
When the matter came up for hearing, counsel to the plaintiffs appeared in court fully prepared to make their submissions but the defence counsel, who was said to have filed a motion the previous day, was absent.
The defence counsel also failed to file and serve their amended statement of defence within 14 days as directed by Justice Mohammed.
Speaking to journalists at the court premises, counsel to the plaintiffs, A Ahmed said, “The matter has been adjourned to March 17, 2020 for hearing of the motion they filed. We have not seen the motion to know what it is all about, but I told the Registrar of the court that we must see the motion within this week. Since they filed a motion, even if they were not ready for hearing, they were supposed to be in court to tell us why they filed the motion and what they are seeking for in the motion.
“They have not even filed their defence. They were supposed to be in court because the judge fixed today for hearing of the case and they were notified. On the next adjourned date if they don’t show up we will ask the court to strike out their motion and go ahead with our case because we will consider it as delay tactics on their part. We will bring our witnesses on 17th of March to begin hearing on the substantive matter.”