An Abuja-based activist, Sesugh Akume, has sued the chief bailiff of the Supreme Court, Ukor Michael Akan, for defamation.
In his petition before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, the public analyst said he made a Freedom of Information application at the Supreme Court in 2021 to know the status of an earlier request made in 2018 about a case at the court but got no response.
In the suit, Akume said the court’s non-compliance with the FIO act had prompted him to sue.
The activist said when Akan was served the court orders, however, he initially failed to acknowledge them.
He said when the Supreme Court eventually responded to the court orders on June 25, 2021, Akan made several allegations against him.
In the suit, the activist dared Akan to prove the allegations he made against him or pay the sum of N500million as damages and also issue an apology to be published in five national dailies if he failed to establish the claims.
SaharaReporters gathered that Justice M. B Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Nyanya had already issued an order that Akan should be served the court papers by substituted means, that is, by posting them on the door or notice board at his office at the Supreme Court.
The trial of the case is scheduled to commence on February 22.
Akume said, “Recall that on August 22, 2021, I made a Freedom of Information application at the Supreme Court to know the status of Speaker, Ondo House of Assembly v. Martins Alo filed since 2018 (the first FOI matter at the Supreme Court seeking to make FOI applicable at the state level) and got no response at all in clear breach of the FOI Act.
“I wrote the letter of complaint about their non-compliance with the law, which was rather unfortunate. Again, I got no response and was compelled to sue in the matter of Sesugh Akume v Supreme Court of Nigeria and Chief Registrar, Supreme Court of Nigeria in a suit marked FHC/CS/ABJ/1161/2020 at the Federal High Court, Abuja on 14 September 2020. They were served the court papers but did not respond until nine months, numerous hearing notices, and adjournments later.
“When on June 25, 2021, they finally responded, the Supreme Court chief bailiff, Ukor Michael Akan, in his testimony lied under oath that he did inform me that they were unable to fulfil the application within the stipulated seven days and that I understood clearly. He further lied that I was at a point ‘loudly quarrelsome’ and made ‘boasts’, and other malicious things he said, all without the slightest shred of proof.
“He further besmirched my character by claiming that I was ‘merely fishing for claims he boasted to extort from the first and second respondents whether jointly or severally upon cheap and bogus allegations’, among other things.
“I had never been this shocked, blatantly lied about, abused, and insulted in my entire life. I felt violated and for a period suffered a level of depression, angst, and trauma.
“Upon my instructions, therefore, my lawyers filed an action at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (marked FCT/HC/CV/2087/2021) praying the court to make him prove his allegations, or in the event he is unable, compel him to depose to another affidavit stating the facts as they are and correcting his lies, also tender an unreserved apology in five national dailies, pay N500,000,000 in damages, etc.
“When he was served the court papers, he collected them but refused to acknowledge receipt according to the oath deposed to by the high court bailiff. When the matter came up on January 24, 2022, he neither showed up, had legal representation, nor had anything filed.
“Today the court granted the motion ex parte FCT/HC/NY/M/16/2022 for the court papers to be posted on the door or notice board, deeming him to be properly served ahead of the case which comes up on February 22, 2022.”