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Sahara Reporters Media publisher fights back against paying Saraki N4 billion damages

The online media publisher is petitioning the court to dismiss the judgement that was riddled with fraudulent practices.

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Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore play

Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore

(Information Nigeria)

Online media publisher, Sahara Reporters, has filed a motion in court to dismiss the court judgement that ordered it to pay N4 billion in damages to Senate President Bukola Saraki as damages for publishing a series of libelous stories about him.

On June 28, 2017, Justice Adeyinka Oyinloye  of an Ilorin High Court ordered the media outfit and its publisher, Omoyele Sowore, to pay Saraki for the damaging stories that were published about him between September and December 2015.

Sahara Reporters and Sowore, a second defendant in the suit, are being represented by Falana & Falana Chambers who claim that the Saraki's legal team engaged in fraudulent tactics to win the suit in court.

The defendants have petitioned the court for an extension of the time within which they may apply to set aside the proceedings in the suit and the eventual court judgment.

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In its strong challenge of the judgement, Sahara Reporters is pointing out that the court had no jurisdiction to try the case to begin with.

This is partly because the organization is incorporated in the United States and has no known address in Nigeria, as well as due to the fact that it was not served, as it should have, with the originating processes in the suit.

The defendants also argue that Saraki was represented in the case by a lawyer with Tunde Olomu & Co. when court records show Paul Erokoro & Co. as his rightful legal counsel.

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Senate President Bukola Saraki

(The Guardian)


Going by this, a lawyer from another firm was allowed to argue the case in court for the Senate President without any records showing a change in legal representation.

While speaking about the court judgement in June, Saraki's counsel, Babatunde Olomu had claimed the defendants refused to argue the case in court even though several summons were issued to that effect.

The defendants argue they only became aware of the judgment and the pendency of the suit after the judgment was reported in the media.

They claim they were not aware of the suit and the hearing of the motion on notice for final judgment as they were not served with all the processes.

After the judgement, the defendants' initial requests for the certified true copies of the entire record of proceedings in the suit were not promptly replied, thereby delaying a legal challenge of the judgment.

Saraki's clash with the online media outfit escalated when he was charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for false assets declaration when he was Kwara state governor.

The Senate President was cleared of all charges by the Justice Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on June 14, 2017, citing the prosecution's failure to prove the allegations.

Since the ruling, there have been accusations from both camps about irregularities leading up to the tribunal's judgement.

Sowore accused Saraki of bribing Danladi $2 million to gain victory at the tribunal, while Saraki's media aide, Bamikole Omisore, accused Sowore of demanding $1 million to desist from spreading malicious stories about the Senate President.

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