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A former Governor of Imo State, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim has slammed a N1 billion libel lawsuit against one Mr. Batos Chikezie Nwadike for defamation and libel over a controversial audio leak.
The Eastern Updates reports that Mr. Nwadike was until recently a political appointee in Imo State.
In Suit, marked SUIT NO: HOW/701/2023, filed at the Owerri Division of High Court of Imo State on 4th July, 2023 by Barrister Aloy Ejimakor (Ohakim’s Counsel), the former Governor states that ‘on or about 23rd April, 2023, the Defendant (Nwadike) recorded in his own voice an audio which he put in the stream of viral circulation through WhatsApp social media platforms. The audio was widely listened to by many worldwide, particularly in Nigeria and Imo State.’
In summarising to the Court what was contained in the viral audio, Dr Ohakim stated that ‘the Defendant made and published the foregoing audio allegations, purporting that the Plaintiff (Dr Ikedi Ohakim) was complicit in and a participant in the conduit used to corruptly channel $1,000,000 (One Million US Dollars) bribe which was used to corruptly influence the outcome of the Labour Party gubernatorial primary that was conducted in Imo State recently.’
Continuing, the former Governor said in the Suit that ‘the Defendant’s utterances as aforesaid were false, malicious, wicked and reckless and they were heard worldwide, including particularly in Nigeria and Imo State’. And that ‘the publication and circulation of said audio have seriously injured his fine character, credit, reputation and integrity.’
Court documents showed that the former governor is seeking an order of court directing Mr Nwadike to pay him the sum of One Billion Naira only, being general and exemplary damages for the defamation of his character.
Dr. Ohakim is praying the court to declare that the allegations made in the viral audio by Mr. Nwadike are ‘slanderous, libelous and defamatory. He also seeks an order of the court ‘directing the Defendant to retract the allegations made on the said audio through another audio of his own making and voice and publish/circulate same in the stream of same WhatsApp Messenger social media platforms.’
Additionally, former is seeking an order of the court directing Mr. Nwadike ‘to write and deliver to the Plaintiff, an unreserved letter of apology’, and an order of ‘perpetual injunction restraining the Defendant from further and forever uttering and publishing the said slanderous and libelous words about or concerning the Plaintiff.’
The Writ of Summons issued by Barrister Ejimakor on 4th July 2023 which was signed by the Registrar of the court and addressed to Chief Nwadike states that ‘You are hereby commanded that within forty-two (42) days after the service of this Writ on you inclusive of the day of such service, you do cause an appearance to be entered for you in action at this suit of His Excellency, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim of Okohia, Isiala Mbano LGA of Imo State and take notice that in default of your so doing, the Plaintiff may proceed therein, and judgment may be given in your absence.’
There is no indication that Mr Nwadike has responded to the suit; and our checks with the Registry of Imo State High Court, Owerri showed that Suit is yet to be listed for hearing.