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SAM OGRIH: Magistrate adjourns case against two Delta journalists over ‘unpreparedness’ of claimant

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…Fixes March, 2, For Full Trial

The Presiding Magistrate, magistrate court 5, Asaba, Delta state capital, B.N. Anumadu, on Monday adjourned to March, 2, 2020, the hearing of the defamatory charges brought against the Managing Editor of BIGPEN Online newspaper, Joe Ogbodu, and investigative journalist in Delta State, Prince Amour Udemude.

At the resume of the case, a lawyer who introduced himself as M.A. Omakor, told the trail magistrate, that he was watching brief for the claimant, Sam Ogrih, announcing that he has written to the state Attorney General and commissioner for justice for a ‘fiat’ to formally take over the matter from the state criminal investigation department, (CID), Delta state police command that is currently prosecuting the two Journalist’s.

According to Omakor, “The letter I wrote to the state Attorney General for a ‘fiat’ for me to formally take over the matter, has been responded to but the problem now is that the replied letter is not eligible, the words are not clear to read and as a result we have written another to the state Attorney General, but he has asked why should he issue me another letter when he has already issued me one.

“Your lordship, for this reason, I am applying for an adjournment, to enable me reach out to the state Attorney General concerning the ‘fiat’, and I want to take March, 2, 2020, to enable me do all I needed to do and when we come back there won’t be any reason for any excuse my lordship.”

In his submission, lead counsel to the two Journalists, C.F. Ebu, argued that it is very obvious that both the police and the claimant were not ready for the case and urged the trial Magistrate, to struck out the case.

“Your Lordship, it is very clear that they are not ready for the case. My clients were first arraigned in this court, October, 24, 2019, and this is January 2020 and nothing has been done my Lord. You will see that my learned friend is only playing gimmicks. They are not prepared to go with this case, my lord my application before this court is that the case be struck out my lord.”

At this point, the lead counsel to the two Journalists, sought leave of court for the claimant’s counsel to drop a copy of the response to his letter from the state Attorney General for the court to see whether actually a response letter from the state Attorney General that was probably typed on a computer cannot be visible to read.

But, this request, the claimant’s counsel turned down and appealed to the Magistrate to accept his proposed adjourned date with a promise to tidy up everything before the next adjournment date.

After listening to both counsels, the Presiding Magistrate, B.N. Anumadu, told the claimant’s counsel to his house in order, saying any further excuse from him on the next adjourned date will not be accepted by her court and therefore adjourned the case till March, 2, 2020.

Our correspondent reports that, since the two Journalists were first arraigned in October, 24, 2019, the police prosecutor, has failed to come to court for all the adjourned dates, an indication that the police may have lost interest to the case which may have also forced the claimant to hire the services of a lawyer to take over the case.

It was reliably gathered that, the police could not lay hands on any evidence to nail the two Journalists and as the police have maintained that he who claimed to have been defamed must prove his or her case beyond reasonable doubt because a case of defamation is not that easy to prove.

It would be recalled that, October, 24, 2019, the two Journalists were arraigned by the Delta state police command, following a petition by one Sam Ogrih, that he was defamed in a story alleging him funding and sponsoring some armed Uzere community youth with the codename “Freedom Fighters” who unleashed mayhem on the community over N20 million oil largesse gifted the community by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).

According to the report, some community sources who fled the town at the wake of the mayhem caused by the armed community “freedom fighters”, had alleged that Ogrih, was the one funding and sponsoring the armed youth terrorising the area with guns, battle axe and cutlasses.

Ogrih had denied any involvement in the alleged funding and sponsoring of the armed youth unleashing mayhem in the community.

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