A Bauchi High Court has dismissed a suit filed by an alumnus of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University,Bauchi, Mustapha Isa, accusing his former lecturer,Dr Idris Abdullahi, of defaming his character, and seeking for N4million damages.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that when the case came up on Thursday for judgement, Justice Abdulkadir Suleiman, dismissed the case for lack of merit.
In his verdict, Suleiman held that the plaintiff’s plea to the court to declare a publication by the defendant in a national daily newspaper of Nov. 12, 2017, as defamatory , malicious and libellous in nature, could not hold.
“The claims cannot hold because the entire proceedings during the trial centered on examination malpractices and its antecedents, while the defamation aspect was silence.
“All the witnesses, including Registrars of the institution, only testified over the issue of examination malpractices levelled by the defendant against the plaintiff, and not that of defamation.
“It is also paramount to mention here that no member of the public and no body among his friends, as well as members of his family, had testified over the said publication,” he said.
The judge therefore resolved the matter in favour of the defendant and the dismissed the case for lack of merit.
Suleiman also did not grant the N1million sought by the defendant as counter-claim for general damages.
NAN reports that the former student, now a lecturer with Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic, Bauchi, had in Dec. 2017 filed the suit seeking for N4million as damages over an article written by the defendant, an apology, a retraction of the publication, as well as a perpetual injunction stopping further publication of the offending article.
In his statement of claim, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant had made reference to his ATBU examination in a publication, accusing him of engaging in examination malpractice while he was a student.
According to him, a committee on examination misconduct set up by the institution had cleared him, hence, his graduation from the university.
He therefore alledged that the defendant’s article was malicious and defamatory, and aimed at ridiculing him.
In his reply contained in his statement of Defence, however, the defendant said he never mentioned the name of the plaintiff but insisted that whoever was bearing the registration number he published, had engaged in examination malpractice.
“The registration number of the candidate in question was captured, not to defame his character, but rather to vividly report the case to the Visitor (to ATBU).
“That I am only trying to make ATBU do the needful about the purported case of exams malpractice, to avoid cheating the weaker ones,” the lecturer had said.
He had therefore described the plaintiff’s claim as “frivolous, vexatious and without merit,” as such should be “dismissed with substantial cost”.
He also sought by way of counter -claim, an award of N1 million as general damages.
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