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N10b Defamation Suit: As Ugwuonye’s Trial Begins By Chike Duru

Emeka Ugwuoye Emeka Ugwuoye

After months of attending to preliminary objections and legal fireworks, a Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Apo, Abuja, will on Thursday, 21st September, 2017 commence hearing on a Ten Billion Naira (N10b) defamation suit instituted against controversial Lagos lawyer, Emeka Ugwuonye, by the former husband of missing Abuja business woman, Charity Aiyedogbon, Mr. David Aiyedogbon. The Court had in May, 2017, adjourned to September 21, 2017, after resolving all issues around preliminary objections and motions filed by the defendant. It is expected that at the resumed hearing on Thursday, Aiyedogbon will give an oral evidence in support of the already submitted electronic evidence, in compliance with relevant sections of the Evidence Act. Ugwuonye had earlier filed a motion challenging the twenty thousand Naira (20,000.00) fine slammed on him by the Court for refusing to move an earlier motion he filed challenging the jurisdiction of the Court. He had also prayed the Court to reinstate the motion earlier struck out, saying his absence in previous sittings to move same was not deliberate. All the issues relating to preliminary objections are now resolved in favour of the plaintiff, clearing the air for the commencement of the substantive suit. The crux of the matter is that David Aiyedogbon approached the Court to seek redress following the alleged refusal of Ugwuonye to desist from posting materials he considered defamatory on his Facebook group, The Due Process Advocates. He also wrote Mr. Ugwuonye through his lawyers, demanding an apology and retraction, but he refused to heed, leaving Mr. Aiyedogbon with no option, but to approach the court to seek justice. Ugwuonye had falsely accused Mr. Aiyedogbon of having a hand in the sudden disappearance of his estranged wife, Charity Aiyedogbon; an unsubstantiated claim that compelled Mr. Aiyedogbon to institute the N10b suit against him. In addition to the Ten Billion Naira damages, the Suit, with number CV/2750/16, between David Aiyedogbon (Plaintiff) and Emeka Ugwuonye (Defendant) on defamation of character, before Justice Peter Kekemeke of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court 14, Apo, Abuja; also prays that the defendant be ordered to pay for the cost of the litigation. The Plaintiff is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction “restraining the Defendant, his Agents, Privies, Associates or whosoever called” from making further defamatory publications against him and his family members. Mr. Ugwuonye is accused of posting severally on The Due Process Advocates (DPA), a Facebook group, claiming to have evidence of the involvement of the missing Charity Aiyedogbon’s ex-husband, David Aiyedogbon in her sudden disappearance. One of the posts reads in part: “I now have overwhelming evidence that Mr. David Aiyedogbon killed his wife, Chacha. David has an idea of the kind of evidence at my disposal.” In another post, Ugwuonye is quoted as saying: “this is the headless and dismembered body of Charity Aiyedogbon (posting a corpse on his DPA Facebook page). DPA has been able to identify this as her body within the limits of resources at our disposal.” Continuing, on the 28th of June, 2016, he is quoted as posting: “I will describe David as a low-life and cold-blooded murderer of his own wife. The only reason I would not go further to describe David in the most despicable language that he rightly deserves is that I would rather focus my argument on points that would lead to justice for Chacha.” In an earlier reaction to Ugwuonye’s allegation, Mr. Aiyedogbon washed his hands over the disappearance of the woman and wrote his accuser, through his lawyers, demanding an apology, failure which he would institute a suit against him for defamation of character. The letter dated 21st June 2016, titled: “Defamation of the character of David Aiyedogbon; demand for apology,” signed by his lawyer, Obiora Ilo and made available to newsmen, expressly states: “It is our instruction to demand an unqualified apology from you to our client through our chambers for the defamatory publications you have made of and concerning our client.” Aiyedogbon went a step further by writing a reminder to him, reiterating the issues raised in the earlier letter. The second letter dated 12th July, 2017, signed by Chinenye Ofoegbu, of Ogbulafor chambers and made available to newsmen, expressed his readiness to drag him to Court, in an event that he failed to apologize and issue a retraction. It is instructive to note that as at today, Mr. Ugwuonye is yet to produce any evidence to substantiate his allegations against Mr. Aiyedogbon. Impeccable sources reveal that Mr. Aiyedogbon’s lawyer, Tony Ogbulafor may have also filed a personal suit against Mr. Ugwuonye for wrongly accusing him of giving a bribe (in an envelope) to a Police man to detain him, at the peak of Police investigations. As the whereabouts of Charity Aiyedogbon remain unknown, I join millions of Nigerians to demand that Emeka Ugwuonye provides his “overwhelming evidence” regarding what happened to Chacha or get prosecuted for false information, criminal conspiracy and defamation. .

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