Justice Doris Okwuobi has reserved ruling till April 18, on the the admissibility or otherwise of a documentary evidence said to be relevant in the suit brought against the Sun Newspaper by the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu over an alleged libelious publication.
At the proceeding on Thursday, objections and counter objections by the claimant’s and defendant’s counsel that the judge should admit and reject the said report from the Directorate of State Security, DSS on Magu brought about the arguments.
This situation emanated following the evidence of an EFCC operative/ Head of Intelligence and Special Operation Units, Mr. Zakari Usman, a second prosecution witness that explained to the court that his perception about Magu has been affected since he read a story on Magu being under fresh probe for two Abuja mansions published in Saturday Sun of 25th March, 2017.
While Mr. Zakari was testifying, he was interrupted by Defence Counsel, Mr. Charles Ewenunta when he was about giving oral evidence.
His grouse was that since the witness had deposed to a statement of oath dated 4th April, he does not need to read the excerpt of the publication.
However, Mr. Wahab Shittu argued otherwise.”It is not sufficient for witness to merely dump his evidence in court, he has to demonstrate it. He added, “the nature of the proceeding is having to deal with libel. Counsel can only be heard to object if his clarification is outside the evidence, especially when it is the witness that claimed to have read the publication.
The EFCC counsel urged the judge to discountenance defence objection and held that the same right that he has for oral evidence, the same is available to claimant.
As the judge moved to overule the defence objection, he (Ewenunta) insisted that his objection be recorded as he was not disposed to the prosecution taking what he described as fresh evidence, saying, “We are being taken by surprise.
“Based on this difference, Ewenunta sought to tender a document as he cross-examined Zakari this way: “You work with EFCC?”
Zakari: Yes. You do not know the investigations conducted by DSS?
Zakari: Yes, My Lord.
You also do not know about the report on Magu?
Zakari: No. I am aware of the DSS report addressed to the Senate.
As the defence sought to tender a copy of the report, Mr. Wahab objected on the ground that it was not an original document nor certified by DSS nor the Senate.
What is more, he said the defendant is not the proper custodian of the document.
“I want my Lord to mark it rejected.
However, the defence argued on the premise of relevance, citing various laws to counter claimant’s argument.
Based on the stalemate, the judge said she could have given a bench ruling but she could not because of certain authorities cited.
She however adjourned till April 18 for ruling and continuation of hearing.
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