N4 BILLION DAMAGES: SARAKI LOSES AGAINST SAHARA REPORTERS AT THE COURT OF APPEAL.
The Court of Appeal in Ilorin, Kwara state has set aside the judgement of Justice A.S Oyinloye of the Kwara state High court in Ilorin delivered on June 28, 2017.
The Court of Appeal had on Tuesday nullified the lower courts judgement that awarded a N4 Billion cost as damages against Sahara Reporters and its founder Omoyele Sowore in a suit between the two and the Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Honorable Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Musa Salauwa, Honorable Justice Nwaoma Uwa and Honorable Justice Hamma Akawu Barka unanimously ruled that the judgement be nullified and assigned to a new trial judge at the lower court for a retrial.
SaharaReporters and its founder were in 2017 sued by Saraki to the tune of N1 billion each as general damages four different publications in the SaharaReportes. Saraki also sought for the court “for injunction restraining the Defendants from further writing, printing or causing to be written, printed or circulated or otherwise published of the claimant, the said or similar libel”
The Counsel to SaharaReporters, Stanley Imhanruor, a senior lawyer from Falana and Falana Chambers who represented Sahara Reporters at both the High Court and the Appeal Court however argued that his clients were never served in the motion on notice neither were they given an opportunity to defend themselves during the hearings that led to Justice Oyinloye’s judgement.
The lead Counsel, Paul Erokoro on the other hand claimed he could not serve counter affidavit on the counsel for SaharaReporters because there was no address for service within the court’s jurisdiction. He argued that he had that he had no obligations to serve counsel directly unless the court ordered him to do so or if he sought the courts leave to serve counsel directly.
The case was however, withdrawn from the lower court, having lost faith in the process and appeal filed at the Court of Appeal.
The protracted case had taken several turns before the eventual judgement of the Appeal Court. In one of the hearing at the Federal High Court in Ilorin, Journalists and Students activists who had gone to court to observe the hearing were harassed by alleged loyalists of the Senate President. Reporters from CoreTV, AIT News and Channels TV who were in court to cover the proceedings and assault that took place in the premises of the court.