Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) yesterday lost a bid to stop a N6 billion suit instituted against him by the former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili in a State High, Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.
Odili had dragged Peterside, who was the Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the 2015 General election, to court, demanding N6 billion as damages for character defamation.
Odili recalled that Peterside in a statement during a press conference had quoted Governor Nyesom Wike’s Supreme Court victory, of saying that he (Odili) was behind the victory of Wike at the apex court.
When the court resumed sitting yesterday, the counsel for Peterside, Mr. Rowland Otaru, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) filed an application asking the court to set aside the suit against his client.
Otaru noted that Peterside was not properly served the writ of summons, stressing that he (Peterside) was denied the right to fair hearing.
But, the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Adama Iyayi-Lamikanra, who is presiding over the matter, ruled that Peterside was properly served.
Iyayi-Lamikanra, dismissed the claim that he (Peterside) was served notice of the suit through a wrong address, adding that such did not hold water as there was no different between the address of the defendant and the address where the notice was served.
Iyayi-Lamikanra also held that the Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter and awarded a cost of N40,000 against the defendant (Peterside).
After the cross examination of the claimant, Odili, by lead-counsel for Peterside, Otaru, the Judge adjourned the matter till February 23, 2017 for further hearing on the matter.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after court sitting, the counsel to Peterside said said: “Our challenge of the Court processes was struck out but that does not matter. The Court has its discretion, either to grant or dismiss.
“We are affected by the decision of the Court. Once a decision is taken, one of the parties must be affected. We were asking that the Court should set aside the proceedings of October 11, 2016. There is no problem about that.”
Meanwhile, the lead counsel for Odili, Kanu Agabi, SAN, said: “In essence, they challenged the jurisdiction of the Court but the judge ruled that the processes were duly served and the case should proceed and we have processed with the cross examination.”