The Africa Independent Television (AIT) on Tuesday filed a statement of defence and counter-claim at an Ikeja High Court in the N150 billion libel suit filed against its owner DAAR Communications Plc, by the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The former Governor of Lagos State had instituted the suit before Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe of Ikeja High Court over alleged false accusations about his personality in a documentary titled “Lion of Bourdilion”.
Chairman, DAAR Communication Plc, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi and seven others have been listed as witnesses to testify in the suit.
Others listed as witnesses are Namure Joy Edoimioya, Chief Medan Tenke, Ajibola Adewusi, Olumide Idowu, Chief Stanley Odidi, Engr. Nwabueze and Dr. Stanley Bassey.
Tinubu is claiming that the documentary was politically sponsored to tarnish his reputation in the eyes of the populace.
Justice Akinkugbe had on April 1, 2015 granted an interlocutory injunction restraining the AIT from further airing the documentary, pending the determination of the libel suit.
In a statement of defence and counter-claim filed by AIT before the court, the defendant denied each and every claim of the applicant in the claimant’s Amended Statement of Claim.
AIT claimed that claimant/applicant founded his entire claims on a nonexistent ground or cause of action because contrary to his (Tinubu) claim, the documentary aired by its media outfit is not titled “The Lion of Bourdilon”, but “Unmasking the Real Tinubu”.
AIT in its statement of defence also averred that the documentary, in its honest opinion, was not false and neither was it aired out of malice to the person of the claimant.
It averred further that as the fourth estate of the realm, it is empowered by Section 22 of the Constitution to at all times, hold those in government accountable and responsible to the people of Nigeria.
According to AIT, the said documentary, which it did not authored, was only aired for a given short period of time and was last aired on March 6, 2015, when it got wind that the defendant had filed a libel suit.
Attached to the statement of defence and counter-claim was a list of documents which it said would be relied upon and which comprises links to online publications.
Dokpesi in his statement on Oath also claimed that the defendant merely exercised its constitutional, statutory and social responsibility to inform, educate, entertain and provide a platform for national discourse, to all shades of opinion and political persuasion.
He said the documentary aired by the defendant under Section 22 of the Constitution merely states that the claimant has breached some portions of the said fundamental objectives, and directive principles of state policy contained in Chapter 2 of the Constitution and which the defendant is legally mandated to ensure the observance of, and same was not maliciously or falsely made against the claimant.
Source: The Herald