A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory has ordered the Nigerian government to pay a fine of N1 million as compensation to a US-based lawyer, Emanuel Ogebe, for repeatedly failing to appear in court.
The court gave the order on Monday after it ruled that the federal government should be allowed additional time to file its defence.
Mr Ogebe, who took 10 abducted Chibok girls to school abroad, after they escaped their captors, had claimed $5 million in a defamation suit.
He accused the Nigerian government of launching a smear campaign against him.
The lawyer, who was present in court on Monday, asked the court to compel the Nigerian government to publicise its retraction of comments he termed defamatory.
Mr Ogebe said the former minister of Women affairs, Aisha Alhassan, linked him with complaints made by some Chibok girls schooling abroad, that they were being used ”to make money”.
“We got the information that the girls were being used as tools for making money – not prostitution – but in the sense that they will be taken here and there where they go and relay their experiences during the insurgency, especially the invasion of Chibok town by Boko Haram and how they were abducted.
“After that, people used them to ask for donations; by so doing they make money out of it. So the girls became fed up; and started complaining that they were taken to the U.S. on an arrangement that they were going to send them to school and that they were going to pay for their school. But unfortunately, they said they were not allowed to remain in school,” Ms Alhassan told reporters in Maiduguri on September 9, 2016.
The defendants, namely the minister of women affairs and the Attorney General of the Federation have failed repeatedly to appear in court.
After a previous ruling, awarding cost against the defendants for failing to file their defence, a second application was brought by the defendants for the court to allow them to file their reply outside of time.
But Mr Ogebe’s lawyer reminded the court about the previous excuses made the defendants and asked for an award of cost, against the defendant.
Subsequently, the court awarded a fine of N1 million to the defendants and adjourned the case to April 16 for a continuation of trial.