Posted by News Express | 11 April 2017 | 1,782 times
•The litigant, International Human Rights Lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe.
An Abuja High Court has adjourned to April 12 a defamation lawsuit against the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) by a US-based international human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe regarding the Chibok girls he sponsored to school abroad. The third anniversary of the Chibok abductions comes up two days later on April 14, 2017.
The defamation lawsuit against FGN came up for mention in FCT High Court Abuja on March 21. The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami, who is the first defendant, was not present in court or represented by counsel but the lawyer for the second defendant, the Minister of Women Affairs Aisha Alhassan, was present.
Counsel to the plaintiff, Barrister David Ogebe, was served in court with a preliminary objection by Aisha Alhassan’s lawyer. Neither defendant has filed their statement of defence.
The Minister is claiming that under the Public Officers’ Protection Act, any challenge to her action must be done within three months. According to her, the lawsuit is statute barred the case having been filed outside that time frame.
Plaintiff’s counsel urged the judge to speedily hear the motion, drawing the attention of the court to a recent defamatory publication just the previous week as a continuing injury from the defamation. The court, presided over by Honourable Justice A.B. Mohammed, adjourned to April 12 for a hearing of arguments on the preliminary objection.
The plaintiff, who was present in court for the proceedings, said: “It is shocking that I flew all the way from America to honour the date fixed by the court but the Attorney General whose office and hundreds of lawyers are based here could not come less than 10 kilometres to the court to defend this case. Maybe they know this is an indefensible case. Whatever the case, their failure to show up is a perfect of symbol of this administration.
“For Aisha Alhassan’s lawyer who came to submit that slander is a protected official duty of a Nigerian public officer goes to show you how our civilisation has crumbled into the abyss. Soon someone who is charged with looting will say it was their official duty to do therefore no one should sue after 90 days.
“During the 2nd Republic, then Benue governor Aper Aku’s lawyers argued that his election could not be challenged because he had immunity as governor. I thought those kinds of thoughtless and illogical arguments had been consigned to the garbage heap of history but apparently not.
“I suppose these are the desperate tactics of politicians who have nothing better to offer.
Public office holders should note that they do not have immunity to act with impunity.
This legal action will show that governments may fool some of the people some of the time but they cannot fool all of the people all of the time as the late JFK said.
“I look forward to the robust defense to this delay tactic put forward by the Minister of Women Affairs proffered by our erudite legal team on April 12 which incidentally is the days before the Chibok abduction anniversary. Let us find out whether appointment to government position in Nigeria is a license to lying and lawlessness.”