An Abuja High Court has dismissed a N2billion suit by a former Minister of Power and Steel, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu against a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
Dalhatu, a former minister under the late Gen Sani Abacha regime had
filed a N2.1billion libel suit on February 7, 2007 against Ribadu and
Daar Communications Plc.
According to the libel suit filed by the lawyer to Dalhatu, Mr. Yunus
Usman (SAN), the plantiff alleged that Ribadu had while addressing the
Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on November 2006 made the libellous
statement against him which was broadcast by Daar Communications Plc.
But Ribadu had through his lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), insisted
that he was prepared to justify every sting of the libelous publication.
The plaintiff gave evidence for himself and call four other witnesses
while Ribadu called an official of the EFCC to testify on his behalf
In a considered judgment delivered on Tuesday, Justice Olasumbo
Goodluck upheld the submissions of Falana who contended on behalf of
Ribadu that the plaintiff had failed to prove that he was defamed by the
statement credited to Ribadu.
In view of the evidence of qualified privilege and justification
canvassed by Ribadu, Justice Gooluck held that Dalhatu was not defamed
having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case.
In particular, the judge found that the allegation that Dalhatu duped
his client was not challenged because evidence was led to show that
even though he collected $15 million from the Federal Government on
behalf of his foreign client, he only remitted $6.5 million while the
remaining $8.5 million was not accounted for.
Dalhatu had claimed that Ribadu made libellous statement against him
when he spoke in the following words “….I can name names of lawyers who
struggle over 419 cases. I know, I can talk some of these we have facts
and figures. For example, Bashir Dalhatu, he is a lawyer, we have a
case we are investigating. He took $15 million from the Government of
Nigeria. He said he was going to give to somebody whose ship was
destroyed by the Buhari administration for illegal bunkering.
“They went and got Babangida to approve and they took $15 million.
The same guy went to a judge, his own classmate, Justice Auta to give
him a court order that we can’t prosecute him. Yes it happened in our