The Supreme Court, on Friday, dismissed the appeal filed by a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, to challenge the mode of service of court documents in a N6 billion defamation suit involving a former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili.
In a unanimous judgement by a five-member panel of the Supreme Court, Adamu Jauro, who read the lead judgment, said the appeal lacked merit.
Mr Odili had in October 2016 sued Mr Peterside at the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, where he claimed the erstwhile NIMASA boss defamed him through a newspaper publication in February 2016.
Mr Odili demanded N6 billion compensation from Mr Peterside.
According to court filings, Mr Peterside was alleged to have said at a press conference that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had during a victory thanksgiving service, stated that Mr Odili helped him (Wike) to secure the judgement that gave him (Wike) victory.
But, Mr Odili described the statement credited to Mr Peterside as false and malicious.
He insisted that Mr Wike never said he (Odili) helped him to secure election victory at the apex court.
Mr Odili’s lawyer, Kanu Agabi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal by Mr Peterside and give judgment in his client’s favour.
However, Mr Peterside’s lawyer, Damian Okoro, asked the court to allow the appeal.
Although Friday’s ruling is an initial victory for Mr Odili, it does not affect the substantive defamation suit which is yet to be decided by the high court.
Mr Odili governed Rivers State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) between 1999 and 2007. He was succeeded by Rotimi Amaechi who though won his election and reflection on the PDP platform, later defected to Nigeria’s ruling party, APC.
Mr Amaechi was succeeded as Rivers governor by Mr Wike, also a member of the PDP.
Mr Peterside is believed to be a loyalist of Mr Amaechi.
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