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Court Fixes 19 December For Judgement On Odili Defamation Case

   …Authors Made Wild Allegations, Says Adedipe

Judgement has been fixed for December 19 in the suit brought by a former governor of Rivers State, Sir (Dr) Peter Odili, against co-authors of a book alleged to have soiled his reputation

 Presiding judge of Port-Harcourt High Court, Justice Augusta Chukwu, announced date for the judgement at court sitting on Monday after a written address was filed and adopted by claimant's counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, among a team of prosecuting counsels.

In adopting his written address, Adedipe urged the court to grant all their reliefs. He said that the law must be used to reset society and expressed displeasure at way people could tarnish other people's image. Among others on the prosecuting team was eminent lawyer, Kanu Agabi, SAN.

   In an interview, Adedipe said the co-authors and defendants in the case called former Governor Odili all sorts of names in their book and expressed the hope that justice would be served in the case.

Adedipe said: “My expectation would be that justice will be served in accordance with the established facts and the provisions of the law. The established facts show that they wrote a book impugning and damaging the reputation and character of the former governor, called him all manners of name including being a thief and swindler of public funds without a shred of evidence.

 “They equally accused him, again without evidence, that he sponsored third term and was going to scuttle democracy in Nigeria by purportedly sponsoring elongation of Olusegun Obasanjo's administration and so on and so forth (and) so many scurrilous things there.''

Asked about using the law to reset society, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said: “We do have a situation in our country today that things appear not to be doing well with us but in reality (if) we deploy the instrumentality of the law as it should be done, you ('ll) find out that we will reset our society”.

Neither the defendants nor their counsels were in court on Monday.

Sir (Dr) Odili filed libel suit against co-authors, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu and Ms Ayisha Osori, for alleging that he co-sponsored campaign for third term by Nigeria's former President, Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo was in office as President from 1999 to 2007.

Odili said in the suit that the co-authors defamed his reputation and brought him into public ridicule by their allegation and asked that they pay sum of N1billion as compensation and make public apology.

In their book “Too Good To Die: Third Term and the Myth of the Indispensable Man In Africa”, co-authors, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu and Ms Ayisha Osori, alleged that Odili co-sponsored a third term campaign by former President Obasanjo alongside then Bauchi State governor, Adamu Muazu.

Prof. Odinkalu and Ms Osori said in parts of the book that there was “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 the shadowy, complex, unlawful, and almost certainly, criminal financial operations behind third term”.

Counsel for the defendants, Barrister Idaye Opi, withdrew from the case after allegation that the judge was biased.