From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The defamation lawsuit initiated by Dr Akintoye Akindele, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of Duport Midstream Company Limited, alongside his legal representative, against the company’s co-founder, Mr Oluwatosin Odunsanya, has experienced a delay in proceedings.

The development followed the absence of the claimant in court for the case management conference.

Although counsel to the defendant, Oludayo Ayeni had urged the court to strike out the matter for lack of diligent prosecution, Justice Folake Oshin of the Lagos State High Court, rather adjourned the matter to June 5.

Akindele, in the suit marked: LD/ADR/5012/2023, had sued Odusanya vide a writ of summons dated May 23, 2023, for allegations bordering on defamation.

The claimant alleged that Odusanya, deliberately misinformed one Mr Cheriff Abdallah, a director in Duport Midstream Company Limited, via a phone conversation that he (Akindele) misappropriated the sum of $25 million belonging to the company.

It is also the case of the claimant that the defendant admitted to the making of such a statement at a Board of Directors meeting of the company held on January 11, 2023.

He further stated that the statement purportedly made by the defendant against him amounts to both slander and libel and, on this premise, claims several reliefs against the defendant, which include damages and injunctive reliefs.

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However, in his witness statement, Odusanya, who is a board member and a director of Duport Midstream Company Limited, urged the court to dismiss Akindele’s claims with substantial cost.

According to him, the claims are frivolous, vexatious, malicious, unfounded, otiose, of no moment and an attempt at gold digging and reaping where the claimant did not sow.

He admitted having several phone conversations with Mr Cheriff Abdallah, a fellow board member in the company.

He, however, averred that the conversation centred on his concern about the way and manner Akindele is operating and managing the affairs of the company as an appointed MD/CEO, which he said was in sharp contrast with the terms of the shareholders’ agreement.

“The conversations were premised on the claimant’s disregard of his obligations to the company’s board, which stipulated on the terms of his appointment that while he was responsible for the day-to-day management of the company, all his business decisions for the company were subject to the approval of the company’s board.

He said the board, sometime in 2022, demanded that Akindele should render a comprehensive account of his activities in the company after seeing that the business of the company and the reputation of the board members were being jeopardised,

Odusanya said his conversations were not malicious in nature but privileged communications in the circumstances.

“I made the statements complained of in the exercise of my legitimate right and interest as a board member, expressing my concern to a fellow board member regarding the activities of the claimant in the company,” he said.