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Odili Defamation Suit: Judgement Delivery Likely January 27

A Port-Harcourt High Court is likely to deliver judgement on January 27 on libel suit brought by former governor of Rivers State Dr Peter Odili against co-authors alleged to have soiled his reputation.

The judgement was to be given December last year but presiding judge, Justice Augusta Chukwu, did not deliver judgement but had asked parties in the suit to come on January 27. She did not give reason why judgement was not delivered.

Dr. Odili filed libel suit against co-authors Prof. Chidi Odinkalu and Ms Ayisha Osori for alleging he co-sponsored third term campaign by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The former governor said the co-authors tarnished his reputation and brought him to public ridicule and asked that they pay sum of N1 billion in damages 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. Odinkalu and Ms Osori alleged former Governor Odili and his then Bauchi State counterpart, Adamu Muazu, were at centre of financial operations for third term by former President Obasanjo, who was the country's  president between 1999 and 2007.

They said in part 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 alleging the judge was biased, an allegation the judge denied.

Counsel to Odili, Ifedayo Adedipe SAN, who spoke to court reporters at the last sitting on why judgement was not given said: “She (judge) has adjourned to the 27th (of January 2020), so, when we come we see what happens but you know under the Constitution a High Court judge has three months within which to deliver a judgement after final written addresses. So, I'm sure she will be guided by that provision and then do what needs to be done”.

He said he expects that justice would be done in the case.

Adedipe said the co-authors called the former governor all sorts of names in their book including “being a thief and swindler of public fund 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”.

In closing his case, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria had said the law should be used to reset society and expressed displeasure at way people could tarnish other people's reputation.