By Jonathan Ugbal
The witness of the claimants in Suit number HC/296/2019 of the High Court of Cross River State failed to show up on Monday for cross examination, elongating the matter of alleged libel and defamation of the Cross River Microfinance Bank.
Online newspaper, CrossRiverWatch and the Publisher, Agba Jalingo are listed as second and first defendants respectively.
The claimants are seeking for NGN2 billion in damages for an article Mr. Jalingo wrote which CrossRiverWatch published wherein he demanded the whereabouts of the NGN500 million approved and released by the Cross River State Government for the floating of the State’s Microfinance Bank which is claimant.
Following several adjournments, the case was listed on the cause list before Justice Maurice Eneji for “the conclusion of cross examination of PW1” – the witness of the claimants.
However, counsel to the claimants, Alice Ewa Esq apologized to the Court for the witness absence. She said the witness had, “traveled for a seminar for which he is a facilitator.”
Counsel to the defendants, James Ibor Esq conceded to the Claimants request and refused to ask for cost, adding that; “the bank has no money so it has to source for resources to operate.” Ibor also said that two days should be taken for “real business to be done,” since one of the defendant’s witness currently resides outside jurisdiction.
The matter was subsequently adjourned until the 8th and 9th of December, 2021 for “conclusion of cross examination of PW1 and hearing of other witnesses.”
This is not the first time a witness fails to show up.
Following the conclusion of pre-trial on November 26, 2020, the matter was adjourned to January 14, 2021 for hearing of the testimony of the sole witness of the claimants.
But, upon resumption, the counsel to the claimants, L. E Awogo Esq informed the Court that the witness was unavailable. It was then adjourned until February 15, 2021 which upon resumption, counsel to the Claimant, Raymond Manga Esq said the client was sick and sought for another date.
The matter was adjourned until March 23, 2021. The witness appeared in Court and testified with the case adjourned again until April 28, 2021. However, the Court failed to sit on that day and a new date (today) was taken off record.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jalingo is expected to appear before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Calabar division of the Federal High Court for alleged acts of terrorism, treasonable felony and attempts to overthrow the Government of Cross River State over the same article.
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