Court Slams NGN20k Cost On Agba Jalingo, Others In Defamation Suit Instituted By Ayade’s Wife

In Breaking News, Reports

By Jonathan Ugbal

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Apo and presided over by Justice B. Abubakar on Thursday awarded a cost of NGN20,000 against the defendants in a defamation suit brought by Mrs. Elizabeth Alami Ayade, wife of Frank Ayade, the younger brother of a former Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade.

Journalist and rights activist, Citizen Agba Jalingo; one Francis Etungufe; journalist – Sylvia Felix, and one Paul Utionpkan are listed as the first to fourth defendants in suit number FCT/HC/CV/3303/2022 which was filed on September 30, 2022.

The Claimant, Mrs. Ayade who was in Court and fully robed as a lawyer is seeking damages over a Facebook post written by Citizen Jalingo and 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.

The counsel to the defendants, S. M. Gonji Esq informed the Court that they were only briefed recently and are duty bound to inform the Court about that, much to the chagrin of Justice Abubakar who said it was difficult for the Counsel to prove that he has been briefed only recently especially if he has to rely on the records of the Court.

“I don’t like Counsels telling me that, it is difficult to prove,” Justice Abubakar said.

Taking the hint of the Court, Mr. Gonji pleaded with the Court to give him time to respond. The Counsel to the Claimant, Uyi Obayagbona Esq. did not object to an adjournment but asked for a cost of NGN100,000 which Mr. Gonji objected to.

Eventually, Justice Abubakar slammed NGN20,000 cost on the defendants since the matter had been called before now even though he was appearing for the first time, and adjourned the case until June 26, 2023, for trial.

The Case…

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 via substituted means at the gate of Hit 95.9 FM Calabar where Mr. Jalingo is not a staff.

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