An Abuja High Court has foreclosed a Police Officer, Oluremi Adefemi Adeoye, from cross-examining one Mike Ile, who slammed a N100 million defamation case against him.
The decision to foreclose the defendant from cross-examining the plaintiff followed the continuous absence of the defendant and his counsel in the court for the matter.
Mike Ile had dragged the Police Officer, currently in Ethiopia on a peace-keeping mission, to the court over publications of defamatory statements against him on the facebook timeline of the Officer.
In the suit filed last year by his counsel, Baba Isa, the plaintiff is claiming the sum of N100 million as “general damages for defamation and malicious falsehood published by the defendant on his Facebook timeline on the 18th and 19th October 2017.”
The plaintiff is also asking the court to restrain the defendant; by himself, his agents or servants from any alleged publication of a defamatory nature” against him.
He also seeks an order of the court, "directing the defendant to retract the defamatory publications and malicious falsehood within 48 hours of delivery of judgment in the case and publication of an apology on his Facebook timeline and other mainstream media channels in a form approved by counsel to the plaintiff."
The defendant had, in the Facebook post, accused the plaintiff of allegedly defrauding people under the guise of charity and that he (Mike Ile) had duped two women of the sum of N11 million.
The said post also accused the plaintiff of collecting N800, 000 from a sick woman on a hospital bed.
The plaintiff said that the defendant is a policeman popularly known as Remi Adeoye II on Facebook. He claimed the defendant also boasted in October 2018, that he was ready to meet Mike Ile in court, ending his boast with “lets go there”.
Ile said exactly one year after the defendant’s injurious post against him which he claimed was out of “meticulous investigations,” from his base in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that Mr Adeoye has failed to turn up in court as necessary.
According to Ile, “His lawyer has come up with several laughable excuses in attempts to prolong the case and evade possible justice. It is even more worrisome that a man who claimed to have more than enough evidence of fraud in 2017, has been unable to file a single word in court for all of twelve months. Dramatically, he has blocked almost everybody who called him out for his lack of professionalism and fairness on the matter. He has built a draconian reputation as Nigeria's “Commissioner of Facebook Police Force.”
Mr. Ile also said that just last week, that the defendant boasted on a Facebook thread that he (Ile) was the one stalling the court case as he was ready to cross-examine Mike but that the plaintiff was not available for cross-examination.
At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, the attention of the court was drawn to a letter by counsel to the defendant seeking for an adjournment as he will not be in court, on the ground of ill-health.
Worried by the two-time absence of the defendant's counsel for the proceedings in the matter to go on, the trial Judge, Justice Jude Okeke, in a short ruling, agreed with the submissions of the plaintiff's counsel that the defendant is foreclosed from cross-examining the plaintiff.
In the words of the Judge, "I have listened to the submissions of counsel to the plaintiff, records of the court showed that, on 10th May 2018 the matter was adjourned to 18th June 2018 for cross-examination of PW1, 18th June turned out to be public holiday and the case was adjourned, off record till today for the same purpose.
"The attention of the court has been drawn to a letter dated 25th September, 2018, sent to the defendant's solicitors on the same date by the claimant's solicitors reminding them to attend court today.
According to the plaintiff, "The letter was assumed on the face of it received by the defendant's solicitor and today, neither the defendant nor the defendant's solicitors are present in court, while the claimant himself was present.
"The defendant has sent to the court a letter dated 2nd October, 2018 seeking for an adjournment for the reason that Mr Uko Akpanuke, one of the counsel in the case is involved in a matter outside the jurisdiction of this court and that Mr. Nichola Udeh, the counsel who authored the letter is indisposed health-wise.
"It was not slated in the letter for the benefit and guidance of the court, the name and particulars of the matter that Mr. Akpanuke has gone to handle outside the court’s jurisdiction.
"Besides, Mr Udeh, who authored the letter stated that he is indisposed health-wise.”
However, following the letter of reminder sent to the defendant's solicitors against today's (October 4) sitting, the court held that the defendant has not made out a case to warrant an adjournment.
However, Justice Okeke, after hearing the complaints, held that "The application is therefore refused , the defendant, having been availed of opportunities on March 21, 2018, May 10 and today to cross-examine PW1, who is available in court and ready for that, but the opportunities were not used, the application to foreclose the defendant from cross-examining PW1 is hereby granted, the defendant 's right to cross-examine PW1 is hereby foreclosed," held.
Further hearing in the matter was slated for November 5, 2018.