FOR lack of diligent prosecution, a Benin, Edo state High Court has struck out a suit by the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole against the Edo state branch of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the African Newspapers of Nigerian Plc, the publisher of the The Nigerian Tribune.
In striking out the suit last Thursday, Justice Ehigiamusoe ruled that the former Edo state governor who demanded N500 million for libel cannot keep the court waiting as he failed to appear in court on five consecutive occasions.In suit No. B/242/2012, Oshiomhole had alleged that an advert by The Nigerian Tribune on December 21, 2011 titled “Oshiomhole’s Tales By Moonlight” by Orbih, the Edo state chairman of the PDP published defamatory words touching and concerning his person which words were false in every material respect.
Peeved by the publication, the APC national chairman had gone to court on the ground that among other things that the publication meant that he is a criminal who engaged in immoral acts by receiving state funds that were allegedly diverted by late President Musa Yar’Adua to fund his campaigns in the 2012 governorship election and also to build mansions at his hometown of Iyamho, Abuja, Kaduna, Benin and Lagos.
Contrary to the report, the former governor denied benefiting to the tune of several millions of naira from Yar’Adua, insisting that no funds belonging to the masses of Katsina state was given to him.
Left with no option after writing several letters through his solicitors to the defendants demanding for a retraction and apology for the offensive advert, a request which they ignored, he decided to head to the court to seek legal redress to the tune of N500 million being damages for libel.
While Oshiomhole let it be known in his statement of claim that he built his house at Iyamho over several years commencing from about 1994 during his time in the Nigerian Labour Cingredd(NLC), the defendants in their joint statement of defence, noted that the APC national chairman did a major restructuring of his country home by adding a new wing of massive proportion.
Also, the defendants contended that the country home did not contain a swimming pool but that an Olympic size swimming pool was added to it, adding that in the process of renovation of the edifice, artificial lakes, ponds and bridges over a land that has no river in order to create an illusion of grandeur was built around the house.
The trial judge frowned at a situation where the plaintiff was not forthcoming in opening his case even though she adjourned severally to give him chance.
Having failed to appear in court for four consecutive times at the last hearing, the judge had warned that in line with Order 29 Rule 4 of the high court practice that she will have no choice but to strike out the case.
This she did at the fifth adjournment when the claimant failed to appear again.
Below is the Press Release that made Adams Oshiomhole sue PDP :
OSHIOMHOLE’S TALES BY MOONLIGHT
“(President Umaru Musa) Yar’Adua knew I was not in the PDP but he called me and said ‘Adams, your own candidature is not a party matter…I am going to give you support’ and he gave me generous financial support for my campaign…and when I lost he encouraged me to fight on. He gave me support to contribute to my legal case in court…”- Governor Adams Oshiomhole, The Punch, December 14, 2011.
The foregoing were the comments credited Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. However, given Oshiomhole’s loquaciousness such claims fall flat in the face particularly when placed side by side the legendary frugality of the Late Yar’Adua. For, it is very unlikely that Yar’Adua who did not even have enough money at the time to contest the presidential election, would have some to spare an Oshiomhole. Unfortunately, Yar’Adua is no longer alive to confirm or deny this ludicrous allegation. To be sure, Oshiomhole is of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)
It is clear to the least discerning that even if Yar’Adua had indeed lent any form of financial support to Oshiomhole such must have been done discretely and not intended for public consumption. Why then did Oshiomhole wait this long and over a year after Yar’Adua’s death to make this disclosure?
Chief Dan Osi Orbih
Edo State Chairman