Libel Suit: Abuja court permits former minister Onyeama’s adversary to testify from US

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja has approved an application for Lilian Onoh, a former Nigerian ambassador, to testify via Zoom in a libel suit filed by Geoffrey Onyeama.

Onoh, who served as Nigeria’s ambassador to Namibia and head of the mission in Jamaica, will provide testimony from her residence in the United States in the libel suit.

Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s immediate-past Minister of Foreign Affairs, initiated the libel case against Onoh, a career ambassador, accusing her of portraying him as corrupt during his tenure as the foreign minister in former President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.

The legal dispute between the two extends to both Nigeria and the US, where they have accused each other of defamation.

During the hearing at the Nigerian court in Abuja on Thursday, Judge Kesia Ogbonnaya ruled that Onoh could testify from her base in the US. The judge also instructed the defendant to file her statement of defense, along with her witness statement on oath, before the next hearing.

The order came in response to a request by Onoh’s lawyer, Monday Ejeh, seeking time to file the necessary court documents in defense of his client’s case Geoffrey Onyeama’s lawyer, Agada Elachi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), did not object to the filing of the papers out of time.

Subsequently, Judge Ogbonnaya adjourned the suit until January 24 for the “final and definite hearing” of Onoh’s defense in the matter.

In a warning to the defendant’s lawyer, Monday Ejeh, the judge stated, “If the 1st defendant (Onoh) is not ready to proceed, this court will take appropriate action.”

Onoh had accused the judge of bias in her adjudication of the suit, calling for Ogbonnaya’s recusal from the case. However, the judge insisted on hearing and determining the matter.
Additionally, she accused the claimant, Onyeama, of colluding with court officials to keep court filings away from her, leading to the hearing of the case without her knowledge.

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Comfort Samuel

I work with TV360 Nigeria, as a broadcast journalist, producer and reporter. I'm so passionate on what I do.

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