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Alleged defamation: Ortom, ex-Benue Speaker may return to court again

*We’re studying court ruling against gov. – Attorney General

Cephas Iorhemen, Makurdi

Clear indications emerged weekend that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom may appeal against the High Court judgement in which he painfully lost out his defamation suit against former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Terkimbi Ikyange who accused him (Ortom) of siphoning over N45 billion from government coffers into his pocket.

Governor Ortom had taken Ikyange to court for accusing him of deducting N50 million each from the 23 local government areas of the state every month, amounting to N23 billion and embezzling N22 billion security votes, an allegation the governor sued him, demanding for apologies, retraction in both print and electronic media and payment of N1 billion as damages.

In a judgement at a Makurdi High Court, the presiding judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman dismissed the governor’s defamation suit filed against the former lawmaker.

Justice Ityonyiman upheld the submission of Ikyange’s legal team that the case of defamation of character cannot be proved by proxy, saying the governor ought to have appeared in court to give evidence that he was actually defamed, emphasizing that, the case of defamation of character is personal and direct against the plaintiff who will testify personally on how the defamatory words has affected him before calling witnesses.

Justice Ityonyiman averred further that in all the suits in MHC/256/2018, MHC/262/2028 and MHC/259/2018, there was no pronouncement on the removal of Ikyange as Speaker, stressing that the insurance that Ikyange was removed does not have the support the exhibit in reference.

But reacting to the judgement, the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Michael Gusa said, they are studying the case and will soon advise the governor on the next line of action to take.

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