Court strikes out N1bn Libel Suit against ICPC Spokesperson

The Honourable Justice Samira Bature of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court 37, sitting in Maitama has struck out a lawsuit filed against the Spokesperson for the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mrs. Rasheedat A. Okoduwa, by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Sir Lucky Omoluwa.

Sir Omoluwa had instituted a N1billion libel suit against the Commission’s spokesperson, claiming that the statement credited to her that he (Omoluwa) had repeatedly failed to honour ICPC’s invitations to explain his role in an alleged N2.5billion Digital Switch Over fraud was malicious, false and intended to disparage his person.

In a Suit No: CV/578/18, the Pinnacle boss had sought the relief of the court to order Okoduwa to pay him the above sum of money as damages for what he termed “libelous publication” against him.

Other reliefs sought by the plaintiff included: An order of public apology; retraction and rebuttal of the libelous publication, statements on the Commission’s website, some major Nigerian newspapers, and online platforms for seven days; and an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, her cronies, group of people, agency or anyone however called through the ICPC website or any website or news media used or that may be used by the defendant, from further publishing or disseminating the libelous material or similar ones against the claimant forthwith.

However, after filing, the claimant appeared to have abandoned the case by his constant refusal to appear in court for inexplicable reasons.

When the case came up for definite hearing on Tuesday 28th May, 2019, both the claimant and his counsel were again absent in court without any notice to the court or reasons for their absence.

In view of the above, counsel to the respondent, E.A. Shogunle and N.C. Okere, Esq. prayed the court to strike out the suit for lack of diligent prosecution.

The court agreed with the defence counsel that the claimant had lost interest in his claim having been consistently absent in court on several occasions without reason. The judge therefore struck out the case for want of diligent prosecution and also awarded cost of N25,000 against the plaintiff.