Fresh applications filed by the defendants to a N100b libel suit instituted by former Chief of Army Staff, Lt., Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd) against Australian hostage negotiator, Stephen Davies and two others, on Wednesday, stalled judgement.
Trial judge, Justice Valentine Ashi had fixed judgement for Wednesday after Stephen Davies, who accused Ihejirika of sponsoring Boko Haram insurgency in the North East Nigeria and Thisday Newspapers Limited, as well as Nduka Obaigbena, whose Newspaper published the story,failed to enter appearance in court.
Mr. Davies had in August 2015 accused the retired general, a former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, an unnamed senior official of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as well as a man based in Cairo, Egypt, of being among the top sponsors of the Islamic insurgents.
When the case came up on Wednesday for judgement, the 2rd and 3rd defendants brought a motion pursuant to Order 7 Rule 1 of the Court rules and section 36 of the 1999 constitution, praying for an extension of time to file and enter their defense out of time.
Counsel to the 2nd and 3rd defendant, Frank I. Chude, informed the court of the motion seeking for an extension of time within which to file their defense and other court processes.
Besides, they also prayed the court for an order allowing them to enter their defence and also directing the reopening of the case of the plaintiff and recalling the witnesses for cross examination.
In an 18 paragraphs affidavit in support of the motion, the defendants averred that the Counsel has just taken over the case from the previous Counsel, who withdrew from the case without filling a statement of defence for the second and third defendants.
Chude further told the court that his clients have a very good defence in this case and are ready to enter their defense and also cross examine the Plaintiff’s witnesses.
In his ruling, Justice Valentine Ashi, frowned at the attitude of the second and third defendants, who waited till the date of judgment before entering appearance.
“I am not blaming you but it is for people to understand what your clients have done”, he stated.
He, however, adjourned sitting till next Tuesday, May 24, for ruling on the fresh application.
In the suit, the former Chief of Army Staff is asking for an aggravated damages for defamation.
He said he has suffered grievous wrong and he has been exposed to scandal, odium, ridicule, humiliation and his character, credit and reputation brought into disrepute, both in Nigeria and abroad as a result of the allegations.