By Kayode Adeoti
The publisher of online medium, Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, had through his lawyer, Femi Falana appealed the N4billion he was fined against libel on Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.
The appeal was coming on the heels of judgement delivered by Justice Oyinloye of Kwara State High Court on June 28 over the series of libelous stories published last year against the Senate President, by Sahara Reporters.
In the suit (No. KWS/23/2017), Saraki had claimed that he was defamed in several reports and opinion articles published in SaharaReporters between September and December 2015.
However, in a motion on notice filed by SaharaReporters’ lawyers, Falana & Falana Chambers, the website and its founder are seeking an order extending the time within which they may apply to set aside the entire proceedings in the suit and the court judgment. They are also seeking an order setting aside the entire proceedings in the suit as well as another setting aside Justice Oyinloye’s judgement.
SaharaReporters is also contending that the court lacked the jurisdiction to have entertained the suit, stating that neither it nor its publisher was served the originating processes in the suit.
In addition, it contends that the signatures on the originating processes, apart from the writ of summons, are not ascribable to any of the lawyers whose names later appeared.
The lawyers affirmed that the website cannot be sued as it is not a legal entity known to law. SaharaReporters, the lawyers added, is an organisation incorporated in the United States and without any known address in Nigeria.
They stated that Sowore has never lived or carried on business at No. 46B Adekunle Fajuyi Way, G.R.A., Ikeja, or No 13A Isaac John Street, G.R.A, Ikeja, Lagos.
Meanwhile, Saraki’s counsel, Barr. Abdulfattah Salman (Bakini), last night described the appeal by Sahara Reporters publisher and his counsels as irrational and ‘waste of time’.
According to Bakini, the timing of the appeal is wrong, needless and unreasonable adding that Sowore had jeopardised the several opportunities it would have turned to his favour. He however expressed optimism that a face will be put to all hidden issues on the matter in court.
“Let them come forward to test the law, they were served writ 29 times, yet they did not come forward, they had opportunities in the past and they did not make use of it. They failed to do the right thing but they now want the judgement to be set aside. “They’ve written to the court and we are also copied. We will meet in court on 30th of August to justify certain reasons.
“What do they want to appeal? Can you appeal a case you never attended? What they need to do is ask the court to set aside the judgement,” Bakini submitted.