Ortom’s libel suit: Court dismisses Akume’s application

A Makurdi High Court has dismissed the application for stay of proceedings, filed by counsel to Sesugh Akume in the N150m libel suit instituted by Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom.

Also joined in the suit is the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoleye Sowore, who is the first defendant.

Akume through his counsel, Lubem Ukpo filed the application for stay of proceedings pending the hearing and determination of his appeal at the Appeal Court against an earlier ruling of the court which dismissed his motion for the judge to recuse himself from hearing Governor Ortom’s suit.

Ruling on the application, the Presiding Judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman held that an application for stay of proceedings can only be granted when special and exceptional circumstances exist.

Justice Ityoyinman pointed out that, paragraph 6 of the affidavit merely swore that the said petition is still pending at the National Judicial Commission and as such there will be conflict of interest in the matter.

The judge stressed that there is no correspondence from the National Judicial Commission (NJC), showing any conflict of interest and for what reason.

He pointed out that an application for stay of proceedings is not granted as a matter of cause tied lavishly to the filling of an appeal.

He added the applicant must show the existence of special and exceptional circumstances which have an effect of compelling the court to grant the application.

Justice Ityoyinman ruled that, “The application is totally devoid of merit, it fails and it is hereby dismissed.”

The judge, therefore, adjourned the matter to June 28, 2022 for defence.

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