A High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Wednesday, seized a Toyota minivan belonging to the University of Uyo over N50,000 costs awarded against the school in an ongoing libel case.
The plaintiff, Inih Ebong, an associate professor of theatre arts, is in the court against the university for publishing a disclaimer on him in the Punch Newspaper, after terminating his appointment in 2002 under controversial circumstances.
He is challenging the termination in a separate court.
The libel case has crawled on for more than 14 years now, and has survived four different judges, mainly because of the university’s effort to frustrate it.
The current judge, Okon Okon, awarded N20,000 as cost against the school in August, 2015 for causing unnecessary delay in the proceedings.
The judge, again, awarded another cost – N30, 000 – against the school in February 2016, making it N50, 000 altogether.
Mr. Ebong, sensing that the university appeared unwilling to pay him, applied and obtained a writ of attachment from the court which empowered him to impound any of the university’s vehicles until the money was realised.
Emmanuel Imeh, a deputy registrar and director of personnel in the university, drove the minivan, with the license plate number 50 K-70 FG, into the court premises, unaware of the court order. He was at the court, as usual, to stand in for the school in the libel case.
The court bailiffs impounded the vehicle and deflated its tires.
Inside the court room, immediately the case was done with for the day, the university’s lawyer, Ndianabasi Udofia, informed the judge that his client was ready to pay the money.
Mr. Imeh then paid the N50, 000, including extra N2, 000 as charges incurred for executing the order, and got his official vehicle back, while Mr. Ebong left the court room a happy man.
“With this, I am making a statement,” Mr. Ebong told PREMIUM TIMES at the court premises. “The statement is that University of Uyo has been notorious in disobeying court orders.
“The vice chancellor of the school is a professor of law and a senior practicing lawyer. He is a minister in the temple of justice. It is people like him who give the judiciary a bad name in this country,” he said.
The case was adjourned to December 20, for continuation of the cross-examination of The Punch.
Mr. Ebong, in his statement of claim, said the disclaimer, which he said was done maliciously, painted him as an impostor, carrying out illegal, unauthorised, and fraudulent business and transactions in the name of the university.
He is asking the court to compel Uniuyo to retract the disclaimer, and pay him N800 million as damages, as well as defray his legal expenses of N863,020.00.
Nsikak Effiong of the Toyomfon Chambers, Uyo, represented Mr. Ebong in the case.