Abuja – An FCT High Court on Monday awarded N40, 000 cost against a defendant counsel in the ongoing suit of defamation between INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega and Don Communications Ltd.
INEC chairman had in April dragged Don Communication Ltd., the publisher of Pilot Newspaper to court for false publication against him sometimes in August 2013.
Justice Valentine Ashi gave the cost after listening to the prayers of the plaintiff counsel, Abubakar Mamud (SAN).
Mamud had told the court that the defendant just served him on July 4 his intention to defend the matter.
He told the court that the plaintiff had in April 23 served the defendant summons to prosecute the matter, which they did not respond to until July 4.
Mamud also told the court that the time was too short for him to reply.
He said that the time did not allow him to respond to the court in relation to document forwarded to him by the defence counsel.
Mamud informed the court that there were missing pages in the affidavit attached with the motion that showed the defendant intention to defend the suit.
He therefore asked for a cost of N100, 000 for the inconvenience created by the defendant counsel.
Earlier, the defendant counsel, Mr Franklin Aliuna told the court that he had filed a motion containing the witness statement on oath.
According to him, the motion is also seeking the court order for an extension of time for defence.
He told the court that the delay in the intention to defend the matter was borne out of the fact that the parties were trying to settle out of court.
“When it appears that the move failed, the defendant was already out of time,’’ he said.
He prayed the court to reduce the plaintiff’s cost demand and be merciful to him.
The judge awarded N40, 000 as cost for the plaintiff.
According to the judge, “I have considered the plea of the two counsels; the court will not condole any delay by any counsel.
“Cost is not meant to punish anybody; it is done to make the counsels serious with their responsibility.
“It is in line with Order 52 Rule 8 of the High Court.’’
The judge said that the hearing might not continue due to the delay caused by the defendant.
He adjourned the matter to Sept. 9 and 10 for continuation of hearing.
The judge also placed the matter on a fast track. (NAN)