From Okey Sampson, Umuahia

An Abia State High Court sitting in Umuahia has adjourned till June 5, a case of defamation instituted by a former Governor of the state, Senator Theodore Orji, against a Board of Trustees (BOT) and national caucus member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Benjamin Apugo.

Senator Orji who filed the case on September 9, 2020, claimed that Prince Apugo defamed his character by publicly saying he (Orji) looted Abia funds when he was governor.

During the last hearing of the case earlier in the year, it was adjourned to April 16, for the continuation of the pre-trial hearing.

At yesterday’s hearing, the court presided by Justice A.C Chijioke observed that the statement of defence filed by the defence counsel, Oliver Amuzie could not be traced in the court’s file.

Based on the agreement reached by both the claimant and defence counsels, Justice Chijioke adjourned the case to June 4, for the statement of defence to be traced and for the continuation of the pre-trial process.

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Speaking after the adjournment, the defence counsel, Amuzie said the crux of the matter was that his client made a statement the claimant said he was referred to as a looter, that he looted the funds of Abia State when he was governor.

Amuzie said his client had no apologies to make to the claimant since what he said had already been published in various media outlets and as such was in the public domain.

The defence counsel said his client only made a fair comment based on what was already in the public domain.

Claimant’s counsel, Henry Balaogu described what led to the adjournment of the case to administrative lapses which he said would be rectified before the next adjourned date.

He said the allegation against the former governor was criminal in nature, contending that since his client has not been convicted by any court of law for a criminal offence, the onus lies on the defence to prove his allegation.