“When you say somebody cannot be trusted; Governor Nyesom Wike said Tuesday, “that cannot be a fair comment.”

Governor Wike was testifying as a prime witness in suit No. PHC/1505/CS/2020 brought before Justice A. Enebeli of the Rivers State High Court.

The Governor claimed the Defendants in the case maliciously portrayed him as an undependable and unreliable person.

“When you say somebody is influencing the judiciary, that cannot be a fair comment”, the Governor said on oath.

Wike is asking ThisDay Newspaper to pay N7 billion as damages for an alleged libel contained in a report which carried the headline,  “With Wike, Obaseki Meets His PDP’S Waterloo; Almost.”

Governor Nyesom Wike… In search of justice 

Defendants in the suit are Thisday Newspapers Limited, Leaders and Company Limited, Davidson Iriekpan, Chuks Okocha and Adibe Emenyonu.

Governor Wike who alleged that time – tested cannons respected in journalism were reportedly thrown overboard, testified that ThisDay, one of Nigeria’s newspaper powerhouses, did not give him an opportunity to state his own side before going to town with the alleged libelous story.

“They did not seek to verify the facts from me or in any manner oblige me with the opportunity to state my own side of the story before proceeding to make the false publication,” the governor asserted.

Read Also  Update: Ex internationals celebrate Wike

He explained that ThisDay spurned a letter written by “Messrs E.C. Ukala and Co., Solicitors, under the hand of Emmanuel C. Ukala, SAN, dated 23rd June 2020”, which gave the defendants the “opportunity to retract, and recant the publication as well as to offer apology for the false publication.”

“But the Defendants”, the Governor stated, “spurned the opportunity and ignored the letter completely.”

Responding to the claim by the lawyer representing the defendants, Turudu Ede, San, which suggests that the essence of the lawsuit is to intimidate and harass his clients, Wike said the whole essence of his effort in court is to obtain justice and protect his name as a man of substantial character, honour and repute.

Secondus, Wike… Secondus presided over the PDP’s apparatus when the insinuations published by ThisDay were made. 

“The essence of the suit is to get justice since they (defendants) refused to retract the publication or apologise. So, I sued them to clear my name”, Wike emphasized.

As a result, the governor explained that his aim was to seek redress for the malicious injury inflicted upon him by the report of the Thisday edition of Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

Wike reiterated that the publication portrayed him as a deceitful and untrustworthy personae who exerts subterranean influences on judicial matters and over court sittings in Port Harcourt.

Read Also  Wike turns attention to aviation

On oath, the governor stated that the defendants unjustly accused him of influencing the decision of a duly constituted court which sat in Port Harcourt.

That court granted an injunction restraining Godwin Obaseki who had crossed over from the APC at the time from participating in the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party in Edo in 2020.

The purport of the report filed by the Defendants was to portray him as someone who undemocratically exerted a measure of undue influence on the primaries of PDP in Edo State, the Rivers Governor averred.

Recall there were unsubstantiated allegations that Wike had acted in aid of his ally, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who was the beneficiary of the court order restraining Obaseki from participating in the PDP primaries.

The Governor denied any knowledge of the aforementioned suit filed by Ogbeide-Ihama against Obaseki, and accused the national newspaper of recklessness and the promotion of falsehood.

Wike argued that the Defendants presented him before the entire world as a fake democrat, who meddles in the internal affairs of All Progressives Congress, in order to get at Chibuike Amaechi who is seen as a political opponent.

He observed he is not a member of the APC, stressing that he has had no hand in the internal crisis that has ravaged chapters of the political party across Nigeria.

Read Also  N483bn  For Rivers Development in 2022

Outside the courtroom, one of the lawyers to Governor Wike, Mr. Mark Agwu told journalists that his client approached the court in order to seek legal redress.

“Nobody will take that lightly”, Agwu said of the stance of the Governor against the publication, “especially for a man who believes in the rule of law.”

“To challenge him as person”, the lawyer added, “it means you have made him untrustworthy, a deceit, a cheat, an influencer of the court, because the publication they made was that he had a role to play influencing the outcome of  that Federal High Court case.”

Further hearing in the libel suit has been slated for the 12th, 13th  and 14th of January 2022.