An Ikeja High Court in Lagos on Wednesday adjourned a N150 billion libel suit filed by former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, against the African Independent Communication (AIT) till June 30. Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe adjourned the suit to enable Tinubu’s counsel respond to the counter-claim filed by AIT.
Recall that Tinubu had instituted the suit against Daar Communications Plc, owners of AIT, for airing a documentary entitled, “Lion of Bourdilion”. In the suit, he alleged that the documentary, which started airing on March 1, was libelous and aimed at tarnishing his image.
At the resumption of proceedings on Wednesday, AIT’s counsel, Mr Jeffery Kadiri, informed the court that the defendant had filed a counter-claim which had been served on the claimant.
Responding, Tinubu’s counsel, Mr Ayodele Adedipe, said that the process was served on the claimant only two days ago, adding that he needed time to respond. Adedipe, therefore, asked the court for an adjournment and the judge acceded to his request. In the counter-claim, AIT listed its Chairman emeritus, Chief Raymond Dokpesi and seven others as witnesses to testify against Tinubu.
Others listed to testify are : Namure Edoimioya, Chief Medan Tenke, Ajibola Adewusi, Olumide Idowu, Chief Stanley Odidi, Nwabueze and Dr Stanley Bassey. The broadcast outfit also denied each and every allegation of facts as contained in the claimant’s amended statement of claim. Dokpesi, in his statement on oath, averred that Tinubu’s claim was founded on none existing ground, because the said documentary was not entitled “The Lion of Bourdilon,” but “Unmasking the Real Tinubu”.
He also averred that the documentary, in his honest opinion, was not false and was not aired out of malice to the person of the claimant. Dokpesi said that AIT, as a member of the fourth estate of the realm, was empowered by Section 22 of the Constitution to at all times, hold those in government accountable and responsible to the people of Nigeria.
He further averred that the contents of the documentary were facts which had been in the public domain for over two decades. According to him, these are published independently, prior to the broadcast and have remained unchallenged till date.