Court adjourns ex-minister’s defamation suit to allow electronic testimony from U.S.

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By Taiye Agbaje
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Abuja has granted an application by Ms Lilian Onoh, a former Nigerian ambassador, to testify from U.S. via Zoom in a libel suit filed by Geoffrey Onyeama.
Ms Onoh, who was Nigeria’s ambassador to Namibia and head of mission in Jamaica, is expected to testify from her American residence in the libel suit.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Onyeama, Nigeria’s immediate-past Minister of Foreign Affairs, had filed the libel suit against Onoh, a career ambassador.
The ex-minister alleged that Onoh, in a series of media engagements portrayed him as being corrupt while he served as foreign minister in former President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime.
The duo had locked horns in a legal battle both in Nigeria and the U.S., where they accuse each of defamation.
At the Nigerian court in Abuja on Thursday, the judge, Kesia Ogbonnaya, said Onoh could testify from her base in the U.S.
In addition, the judge ordered the defendant to file her statement of defence alongside her witness statement on oath before the next hearing of the suit.
The order followed a request by Onoh’s lawyer, Monday Ejeh, praying the court for time to file the necessary court documents in defence of his client.
Onyeama’s lawyer, Agada Elachi, SAN, did not object to the filing of the papers out of time.
The judge, consequently, adjourned the suit until Jan. 24 “for final and definite hearing” of Onoh’s defence in the matter.
In a warning to the defendant’s lawyer, Ejeh, the judge said “if the 1st defendant (Onoh) is not ready to do the matter, this court will do the needful.”
NAN reports that Onoh had accused the judge of bias, calling on the judge to recuse from the case.
However, the judge insisted on hearing and determining the matter.
The former envoy also accused the claimant, Onyeama, of colluding with court officials to keep court filings away from her, a development that led to the hearing of the case without her knowledge.(NAN)(
Edited by Sadiya Hamza

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