Libel: Okonjo-Iweala seeks N10b damage claims

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The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Tuesday in Abuja asked an Abuja High Court to enter judgment of N10 billion as her damage claims.

Okonjo-Iweala, on March 5, filed a libel suit against a United States-based online news medium: “Pointblank News Communication.”

Through her counsel, Mr. Munachiso Micheal, the minister is claiming the amount against the medium and its directors – Mr. Jackson Ude and Churchill Umoren – for aggravated damages for libel.

The suit is with regards to a news story entitled “Okonjo-Iweala buys N1.2 billion Abuja mansion!” published on January 10.

The publication alleged that the minister purchased the “mansion” from Chief Fabian Nworah, owner of EFAB Properties Limited in November 2011.

Okonjo-Iweal urged the court to hold that the publication was malicious.

At the resumed hearing in the suit before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, Counsel to Okonjo-Iweala, Michael, told the court that the defendants had refused to enter appearance to defend themselves.

Michael told the court that in spite of efforts made by his client to duly serve the defendants with court processes, they had never made any appearance in court.

“My lord, my client has obeyed the court orders for substituted service on the defendants, which was given on April 25.

“We published all the court processes in ThisDay Newspaper of April 26.

“We also sent the defendants a parcel, through the Universal Postal Service delivery, with all the court processes and orders given by the court to their U.S-based address in Maryland.

“We also have proof to show that the parcel was received by Mr. Ude,” the News Agency of Nigeria quoted the counsel as saying on Tuesday.

Michael prayed the court to hold that the defendants have refused to enter appearance and give its judgment in favour of his client.

After checking his records, Justice Oniyangi further adjourned hearing in the suit to October 9.

He said that if by that date the defendants refused to enter appearance, he would hear the prayers of the plaintiff and deliver judgment.

Culled: The Nation

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