A High court sitting in Port Harcourt has ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the libel suit filed by a former governor of Rivers state Dr Peter Odili against the former chairman of National Human Right Commission, Professor Odinkalu and Ayisha Osori.
Recall that PETER ODILi is seeking an interlocutory injunction to stop further publication and distribution of a book written by Professor CHIDI ODINKALU and AISHA OSORI titled ‘Too Good to Die’ which he claimed made libelous claims against his person.
In the defamation charges prepared for Odili, the former governor said he took note of excerpts of the book in which the authors narrated how late politician, Harry Marshall, was assassinated soon after they publicly fell out with each other in 2003.
The book cited a letter which Marshall had written to the police in Rivers at the time, expressing strong concerns about a growing spate of intimidation and violent attacks against members of the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party (ANPP) in the state.
The book also painted vivid details of how Odili helped bankroll the third term agenda which Obasanjo pushed to perpetuate himself in power beyond the 2007 expiration of his constitutionally-approved two terms of eight years.
“Most of the cash distributed in support of the project were wrapped in bundles bearing the stamp of First Inland Bank. Unknown to most people, First Inland Bank’s history lay buried in networks of loyalty between some of the most influential leaders of the ruling party, including President Obasanjo himself,” the authors wrote on page 162.
“The corporate trail however disclosed a deep financial bond between the president, Senator Ararume and the governments of Bauchi and Rivers States, then ruled, respectively, by two of President Obasanjo’s closest governorship acolytes, Adamu Muazu and Peter Odili, who were at the centre of shadowy, complex, unlawful and, almost certainly, criminal financial operations behind third term,” the authors added.
In their arguments, Claimant counsel told the court to enforce the interlocutory injunction so as to stop the defendants from further publishing of the offensive materials, adding that the continuous publication of the said materials is an act of disrespect of the court’s authority.
He noted that the defence counsel has refused to file their defence since they were served.
Defence counsel told the court that the claimant’s counsel should bring proof of application indicating that the defence is still publishing the said material and serve the court.
The defence counsel also asked the court to give them 7 days to file their statement of defence.
In her ruling, Justice AUGUSTA CHUKWU after hearing arguments from both counsels adjourned the case to the 27th of February for ruling on the motion for interlocutory injunction and motion for extension of time within which the defendant will file their defence.
Speaking to our reporter Tina Amanda, counsel to Dr Peter Odili, Ayodeji Adedipe said their prayer is for the court to restrain the defendant from further publishing the offensive libellous book.
On his part, Opi Idaye, counsel to Professor Odinkalu and Ayisha Osori said that they will take the matter to the next level by challenging the jurisdiction of the court at the appeal court