SAN FRANCISCO, June 10, (THEWILL) – Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has asked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s former National Auditor, Chief Bode Mustapha, to testify on his behalf in the N20 billion libel suit slammed against him by a chieftain of the party in the Southwest, Chief Buruji Kashamu.
Kashamu had slammed the suit on Obasanjo at an Abuja High Court for alleged defamation of character over his (Obasanjo’s) claim in a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan and the immediate past PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, that Kashamu was a fugitive wanted in the United States.
When the case came up for hearing on Tuesday, counsel to Obasanjo, Gboyega Oyewole, said Obasanjo had decided not to testify in person, but would call one witness, Mustapha, who was also seated in the court.
Oyewole, who told the court that his client had filed all the necessary processes in line with the court’s earlier order, withdrew one of the applications he filed, challenging some averments contained in one of the plaintiffs’ affidavits.
He sought a date for hearing of all applications, including the main suit. However, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Alex Iziyon (SAN), did not object to Oyewole’s decision to withdraw his application. While agreeing that a date be fixed for hearing, he informed the court that he would call two witnesses for the plaintiff.
The trial judge, Justice Valentine Ashi who commended the matured manner the lawyers on both sides handled the case, therefore advised lawyers to learn to work harmoniously, while still protecting the interest of their clients.
He therefore adjourned the commencement of hearing in the case to July 28 .
In a supporting affidavit, Kashamu had alleged that the defendant maliciously and recklessly published a letter titled, “Before it is too late,” which contained “words which he knew to be false.”
Kashamu alleged that the criminal imputation made against him by Obasanjo in his letter had injured him. He therefore prayed the court to award in his favour, and against the ex-President, N20 billion for the damage he suffered as a result of the allegation.
He also wants the court to issue against the Obasanjo :
*A declaration that the words complained of and published by the plaintiff against the defendant in a letter titled: “Before it is too late,” addressed to Dr. Goodluck E. Jonathan and dated December 2, 2013, which inter-alia carried criminal imputation against the plaintiff and published in several newspapers on December 12 is defamatory of the person of the plaintiff.
*An order awarding the sum of N20 billion only to the plaintiff against the defendants as aggravated and exemplary damages against the defendant for libel falsely and maliciously published by the defendant against the plaintiff in the said letter.
*An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, his agents, servants or privies from publishing or further publishing or cause to be published any defamatory words against the plaintiff to any person or persons; and the sum of N100 million as cost of this action.