Court orders Lai Mohammed’s retrial on N5bn Dokpesi libel suit

The Court Of Appeal on Friday July 15, 2022 over ruled High Court of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja and ordered retrial of Minister of Information Lai Mohammed on a N5 billion libel suit filed by media Mogul, Raymond Dokpesi.

Justice Abraham Goergewill of the Court of Appeal Abuja Division upturned the decision of the lower Court and dismissed its judgement which said
that Dokpesi did not produce enough evidence as proof to show that the statement by the minister were defamatory.

Founder of Daar communications plc, Raymond Dokpesi had alleged in the suit that on March 30, 2019 the Information Minister Lai Mohammed and the Attorney-General of the federation, referred to him (Dokpesi) as one of the looters of Nigeria’s treasury during a press conference and defamed his person.

The suit also stated that inclusion of Dokpesi’s name as number four on the treasury looters’ list portrayed him as “a corrupt and crooked person, a dishonest man and a thief.”

Dokpesi told the court that the Information Minister’s action was a defamation of his character to the general public and also a dent in his reputation.

After presenting all his evidence before the court in the absence of Lai Mohammed, who never appeared in court all through the trial even though he was served, the trial Judge Justice Olukayode Adeniyi dismissed the suit on grounds that it lacked merit.

The trial Judge stated that Dokpesi did not give enough evidence as proof that the ministers statements were defamatory.

Not satisfied with the outcome of the trial court, the media mogul approached the appellate court, challenging the decision of the high court.

Delivering judgement in the 19 grounds of appeal, Justice Abraham George-will who read the unanimous decision of Court of Appeal held that the decision of the trial court was erroneous as the judgement of the court was in a haste.

Justice George-will also held that, the lower court’s Judgement was a breach of the appellants right to fair hearing, when it asked for proof of probability, that the ministers statement was defamatory

He therefore ordered that the re-trial be done by any other Judge except Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the federal capital territory high court.