A witness, Mr Ide Eguabor, on Tuesday, told an FCT High Court that, he lost respect for Chief Raymond Dokpesi, when the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, mentioned him on the list of treasury looters.
Dokpesi, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and chairman emeritus of DAAR Communications Plc, filed the suit on April 30, seeking N5 billion damages from Mohammed and the Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
He alleged that Mohammed and Malami, defamed his character by the inclusion of his name on the treasury looters’ list.
Eguabor, during cross-examination by Mohammed’s counsel, Mr Terhember Akpe, said:” my respect for Dokpesi started shaking, after I watched the news conference on different media platforms”.
Eguabor, a journalist, who live in Apapa, Lagos, told the court: “I am conversantwith the fact that the claimant is standing trial in a N 2.1 billion suit, at the Federal High Court and aware that he pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
“I had no fear and still had much respect for him even after I was aware he was standing trial in N 2.1 billion suit, because I knew it was politically motivated”.
“But when I heard the information minister call the claimant’s name and a couple of others were listed as looters of the National Treasury, my respect for him was affected”.
He informed the court that he could not remember the actual words that Vanguard and Daily Trust newspapers captured the incident, but heard word for word how the minister said ” these are people who looted the national Treasury dry.
Alhaji Dauda Mohammed, a politician, and Habu Danwake, a public servant, told the court that they were aware that the claimant was standing trial in the Federal High Court.
They also informed that it was public knowledge that the claimant was standing trial but that standing trial was different from calling him a looter of national Treasury.
“The news item categorically said names of looters and Dokpesi’s name was mentioned. That is what I heard from the news, Mohammed said”.
Also testifying, Chineme Chuku, a legal practitioner, said she was aware of the pending suit against the claimant at the Federal High Court.
She also told the court that after she heard the press conference by the information minister, her respect for the claimant drop drastically.
“He is a looter of the National Treasury. That is what the minister said, she reported”.
After listening to the testimony, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, adjourned the case until May 8, at 12 noon, for continuation of hearing, at the instance of Benson Igbano, holding fort for Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, counsel to Dokpesi.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Dokpesi had filed a suit on April 30, seeking N5 billion damages from Mohammed and the Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
NAN reports that Dokpesi, besides the N5 billion damages, is also asking the court to order the defendants to publish a full retraction of the said publication.
He further asked the court to order the defendants to tender an unreserved apology to him, in all the major electronic and print media outlets in the country.
He further urged the court to grant a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their servants, agents, partners, representatives, from further writing, publishing defamatory words about the plaintiff. (NAN)