An appeal court in Ilorin, Kwara state, has dismissed the judgment which awarded N4 billion to Senate President Bukola Saraki in a libel suit against Sahara Reporters and Omoyele Sowore, the publisher.
Saraki had accused the news medium of publishing malicious stories against him, and in in June, 2017, Sikiru Oyinloye, a judge at the Kwara state high court, who heard the case gave the verdict, and also ordered the freezing of two bank accounts linked to Sowore.
The case was later filed at the appeal court. On Tuesday, the appellate court assigned the case to a new trial judge at the lower court.
In a motion on notice, Sahara Reporters and its publisher had asked the lower court to grant an order setting aside the entire proceedings in the suit. It said the court lacked the jurisdiction to have entertained the suit.
The motion filed on behalf of Sahara Reporters and its publisher by Falana & Falana Chambers argued that the website could not be sued because it was not a legal entity.
They faulted Saraki’s motion on notice for final judgment which they said had different signatures.
Sowore also accused Saraki of “fraudulently procuring” the court order which blocked the accounts of his organisation.
“They sent their notice to 142 W. 29th Street, New York, when for a fact Sahara Reporters’ address is situated at 146 W. 29th Street, New York,” the publisher was quoted to have said.
“So, you can see they deliberately sent it to the wrong address so we won’t be aware of the lawsuit. In Lagos, where Sahara Reporters opened a multimedia facility on Isaac John Street on May 25, Mr Saraki’s lawyers also sent the notice to the wrong street number.”
He added that only funds in the bank accounts in Nigeria were blocked, but Sahara Reporters activities have always been run from the United States.
“The money blocked in Nigeria belongs to Sahara Reporters Media Lab which is a foundation,” he said.