Gov Wike’s Libel Suit: Defence Witness Cross-Examined By Claimant’s Counsel

The defence counsel in the case between Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, and THISDAY newspaper, Tuduru Ede (SAN), on Monday presented one of his witnesses who was cross-examined by claimant’s counsel.

Bolaji Adebiyi who was cross-examined was sworn in to testify before the High Court presided by Honourable Justice Adolphus Enebeli in which he said what he knew about the case.

Ede told the court that his team had one of their witnesses who took the witness box and was sworn in and was cross-examined by claimant’s (Governor Wike’s) counsel, E.C. Ukala (SAN), after the defence asked for information concerning his name, address and occupation.

Adebiyi is a journalist and told the court that he made a witness statement on oath on April 26, 2022 concerning the case saying that the statement be adopted.

The witness was cross-examined after a video clip was played in which the governor spoke in an interview on Sunrise Daily about Convention to elect national Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Governor Wike said in the clip that PDP delegates were going to vote for Prince Uche Secondus who is from Rivers State and was an aspirant for chairmanship position of the party.

The governor said that he was part of the campaign team for the chairmanship aspirant.

The claimant’s counsel during cross-examination asked the witness if he knew the date the story at the centre of litigation was published but the witness had faltered.

The story at the centre of litigation was published on June 23, 2020 with the headline “With A Friend Like Wike, Obaseki Meets His PDP’s Waterloo, Almost,” according to claimant’s counsel.

He explained that waterloo meant “crushing defeat” and asked the witness if the Edo State governor met his waterloo in the election.

The witness who avoided giving direct answer was compelled by the judge to answer directly when the witness said that the governor did not meet his waterloo because he had won the election.

Three journalists had written the report which is at the centre of litigation.

Asked if it was correct that a story be investigated to confirm facts before publication, the witness said that it was correct as the claimant’s counsel also asked that it was assumed that the three journalists had made investigation before the story was published. The witness responding agreed that it was so.

The witness was also asked if he was aware the Rivers State governor was not party to any of the cases mentioned in the story.

The witness said he had no evidence to show that Governor Wike influenced outcome of the court decision and was also asked if he had proof that the governor involved himself in the internal affairs of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

Ukala demonstrated that the story was based on the opinion of the writers not on facts.

The presiding judge adjourned the case to 3 June for re-examination of the witness by the defence counsel.

Governor Wike instituted N7billion naira libel suit against THISDAY newspaper for portraying him as being untrustworthy and deceitful.

The suit which revolves around a story published by the paper “adversely affected” the governor’s reputation, according to one of the counsel representing the governor.

Speaking in a previous interview, Mark S. Agwu, who spoke on behalf of the lead counsel said that there was nowhere the governor showed that he was inconsistent.

Speaking about the subject matter of the case, he said: “The subject matter is that they said that if Obaseki should associate with His Excellency Wike, he’s bound to meet his waterloo and the question is ‘how can he meet his waterloo?’ The same Governor Wike was the DG in the campaign for re-election of Governor Obaseki”.

The counsel said when the libellous story was published the governor had written to the newspaper requesting it to retract the story but they did not.

And in a press release last year, the governor’s Special Assistant on Electronic Media, Kelvin Ebiri, said that Governor Wike filed the suit to “seek justice and clear his name as a person from the malicious publication by THISDAY newspaper which portrayed him as deceitful, untrustworthy person who exerts subterranean influences on judicial matters and over court sittings in Port-Harcourt”.

He also said in the governor’s “written statement on oath, Governor Wike had stated that the defendants had accused him of influencing the decision of the court sitting in Port-Harcourt that granted an injunction restraining Godwin Obaseki from participating in the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State in 2020”.


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