An Ikeja High Court on Tuesday adjourned the N150 billion libel suit filed by former Lagos state governor Ahmed Bola Tinubu, against African Independent Television (AIT) to Sept. 30. Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe adjourned the suit for further direction on the court processes served by counsel to both parties.
Tinubu had instituted the suit against Daar Communications Plc, owners of AIT, for airing of a documentary titled, “Lion of Bourdilion”. He had alleged that the documentary aired on the station was libellous and was aimed at tarnishing his image. During Tuesday’s hearing, counsel to AIT, Mr Jeffery Kadiri, told the court that he had filed all the necessary pleadings in the matter.
Responding, Tinubu’s counsel, Mr Ademola Adesiyun, asked the court in a motion dated, June 26 for extension of time in which to file a reply to AIT’s statement of defence and counter-claim.
In the counter-claim, AIT listed its Chairman emeritus, Chief Raymond Dokpesi and seven others as witnesses to testify against Tinubu. Others listed to testify were Namure Edoimioya, Chief Medan Tenke, Ajibola Adewusi, Olumide Idowu, Chief Stanley Odidi, an engineer, Mr Nwabueze and Dr Stanley Bassey.
The television station also denied each and every allegation of facts in the claimant’s amended statement of claim. Dokpesi, in his statement on oath, averred that Tinubu’s claim was founded on a non-existent ground because the documentary was not titled, “The Lion of Bourdilion”, but “Unmasking the Real Tinubu”. He asserted that the documentary, in his honest opinion, was not false and was not aired out of malice to the person of the claimant.
Dokpesi said AIT, as a member of the fourth estate of the realm, was empowered by Section 22 of the Constitution to at all times, hold those in government accountable and responsible to the people of Nigeria.
He further affirmed that the content of the documentary were facts which had been in the public domain for over two decades. According to Dokpesi, the information in the documentary was published independently prior to the broadcast and had remained unchallenged till date.