By Jonathan Ugbal
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Apo and presided over by Justice B. Abubakar has adjourned a civil defamation suit filed by Mrs. Elizabeth Alami Ayade until September 21, 2023.
Mrs. Ayade is the wife of Frank Ayade, the younger brother of a former Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade.
She had approached the Court in September 2022 in suit number FCT/HC/CV/3303/2022 seeking damages over a Facebook post written by Nigerian journalist and activist, Citizen Agba Jalingo querying why a suspended lecturer in the University of Calabar, Paschal Aboh Esq was facing trial for allegedly impersonating a student at the Bwari Campus of the Nigerian Law School.
Citizen Jalingo; one Francis Etungufe; journalist – Sylvia Felix, and one Paul Utionpkan are listed as the first to fourth defendants in the suit.
At the resumption of the hearing on Monday, the counsel to the first, third, and fourth defendants, F. Baba Isa Esq informed the Court that the first, third, and fourth defendants had filed responses to the claimant’s writ of summons. The claimant’s counsel, Uyi Obayagbona Esq. acknowledged service in Court and the Court subsequently adjourned the matter until September 21, 2023, for trial.
The defendants first appeared on the matter on June 2, 2023, with Justice Abubakar slamming NGN20,000 cost on them since the matter had been called a few times before then.
Mrs. Ayade who was in Court and fully robed in her wig and gown, had in July 2022, through her lawyer, Mr. Obayagbona Esq written to Citizen Jalingo seeking a retraction of an article that queried why Mr. Aboh Esq was facing trial for impersonating a student of the Nigerian Law School, Abuja campus while the person who allegedly contracted him (Mrs. Ayade) was walking free.
She asked for an apology to be published in two national dailies, including, but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, and Cross River Watch (not CrossRiverWatch) as well as NGN 500 million in damages. He was given fourteen days to comply otherwise legal proceedings will be instituted against him.
However, Police from the FCT Command on August 19, 2022, stormed the Ogudu, in Lagos State residence of Citizen Jalingo, and arrested him, several hours after holding his wife and daughter hostage.
He was subsequently detained at the Alapere police station and later, at Area F Command in Ikeja before he was flown to Abuja the next day where it was revealed that Mrs. Ayade had abandoned the civil approach and rather petitioned him for allegedly defaming her character.
He was released later that night and when asked to return two days later on August 22nd, was asked to go back to Lagos since Mrs. Ayade failed to show up.
But, news filtered in, in January 2023, that the Police abandoned the criminal defamation case and opted to sue Citizen Jalingo for alleged cyber crimes.
Also, the civil proceedings secretly filed in September 2022 at the High Court of the FCT, including the hearing notice, were served by substituted means at the gate of Hit 95.9 FM Calabar where Mr. Jalingo is not a staff.
The Criminal matter brought before Justice Zainab Abubakar of the Federal High Court, Abuja division was adjourned until July 17, 2023, for continuation of trial.