N50 Million suit: Court fixes June 1st for ruling, continuation of defence

By Ado Hassan, Sokoto

Justice Bello Abbas of the Sokoto state High Court I has fixed June 1st for ruling and continuation of defence on N50m suit filed for defamation against Leadership Group Ltd. publisher of Leadership Newspaper and its Sokoto state reporter, Sharafaddeen Sidi Umar Dogon Daji.

The case was filed before the Court in April 2016 by the plaintiff and former Chairman, NUJ, Sokoto state Council, Labaran Lumo Dundaye against the two respondents.

Having heard the various claims and counter arguments from both plaintiff and defence counsels, Justice Abbas on Monday ruled that the matter be adjourned to June 1st for ruling and continuation of defence.

At an earlier sitting, Counsel to the plaintiff, Barrister Mohammed Adeleke while cross examining the principal witness to the 1st defendant, Al-Ameen Chiroma who gave evidence before the court that he was no more in the service of his former employer(Leadership Group Ltd.) and admitted that he edited some of the publications said it was not their intention to defame the character of the plaintiff.

Adeleke, however, while further cross examining the witness, pointed out that there was no place stated in the series of publications made against the plaintiff that he(Dundaye) was contacted to ensure the principle of balancing and objective reportage.

In confirming his statement of claims, the 2nd defendant and respondent, Sharafiddeen Dogon Daji presented to the Court a letter of query saying that it was signed by and emanated from the MD/DG Sokoto state Media Corporation, Malam Abubakar Shekara against former GM(Rima Television) and current Deputy Managing Director, Labaran Lumo Dundaye.

He urged the Court to admit the document as evidence in his favour.

Counsel to the 2nd defendant, Barr. S.E. King in his argument, urged the Court to admit as evidence the letter of query as it is related to the publication citing some relevant cases and authorities(AWLR, AFWLR) respectively to support his claim.

In his submission, Counsel to the plaintiff, Barr. Adeleke debunked what he described as purported query letter, urging the Court to dismiss in totality the document.

While making reference to some sections of the evidece Act to buttress his claims, Adeleke also argued that the defamation of character publications were made between 2012 to 2015 but the letter of query emanating from Abubakar Shekara was written and dated 2016 and certified by the originator in 2017.

Adeleke described the letter as invalid and ineffective to the claims by the defendant and therefore, has no relationship with the defamation suit before the Court.

However, Counsel to the 1st respondent, Barr. Abdulhamid Zubairu said he had no objection to the letter of query presented to the Court as evidence.

In his ruling, Justice Abbas adjourned the matter for continuation of defence on June 1st, 2018.

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