Libel: DSS report on Magu inadmissible – Court
An Ikeja High Court has rejected the Department of State Security’s, DSS, report to the Senate on the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, as a credible indictment.
Justice Doris Okuwobi in a ruling during the ongoing N5 billion libel suit filed by Magu against publishers of The Sun Newspapers held that the report was inadmissible due to fact that it was not a Certified True Copy.
“I hereby accept the submission of the claimant’s (Magu) counsel to the effect that it is only a certified true copy of a public document properly issued by a public officer that is admissible under Section 104(1) of the Evidence Act.
“There is no provision in the Act making ordinary photocopies of public documents without certification as admissible.
“I find the document not admissible as it is not in an admissible form. The document is hereby rejected and marked as exhibit rejected number one,” Justice Okuwobi said.
During proceedings on February 28, Counsel for the publishers of Sun Newspapers, Mr Charles Ewelunta, while cross-examining an EFCC investigator, Mr Usman Zakari, had sought to tender the DSS report on Magu.
However, Magu’s counsel, Mr Wahab Shittu objected to the tendering of the report on the grounds that it was not a Certified True Copy.
Following the ruling, Ewelunta continued the cross-examination of Zakari who is the Head of Intelligence and Special Operations Unit of the EFCC.
Zakari said he worked closely with the anti-graft boss and that he started to view Magu from a different perspective after reading the allegedly damaging publication.
“I work with him closely, I know him very well. The claimant is an asset to the EFCC, he is a man of honour and integrity. Due to this publication, I don’t hold him in high regard as before.
“I am not aware that the claimant associates with certified corrupt Nigerians, it is correct that the DSS investigated the claimant but I am unaware of all the investigations that the DSS conducted against him.
“I read the story which is the subject of this suit online and that is why we are here,” he said.
Zakari under cross-examination denied allegations that Magu had property beyond the shores of Nigeria.
“The claimant does not have any property out of the country. He has a house in Kano, a townhouse in Karshi area of Abuja and a family house in Maiduguri.
“I have visited the three properties and he does not have any property outside Nigeria, that publication falsely mentioned that he owned two properties in the highbrow area of Maitama, Abuja.
“It is not correct that the claimant is not worthy to be entrusted with responsibilities and it is also not correct that the claimant is lacking in integrity.
“We are in court because we want the ownership of those Maitama houses be proved and if proved otherwise, the court should grant our prayers,” Zakari said.
Following the EFCC’s investigator’s evidence, Shittu told the court that there were two more subpoenaed witnesses who are to testify before the claimant closes his case against The Sun Newspapers.
Justice Okuwobi adjourned the case until June 6 for further hearing.
The acting EFCC chairman is suing the publishers of Sun Newspaper, claiming N5billion in damages over a publication that the DSS had uncovered two houses in Maitama which were traced to his wife.
The EFCC boss is also demanding that Sun Newspaper publish an apology and retract the allegedly libelous publication.
Magu while giving evidence during proceedings on December 17, 2018 denied owning two houses in Mataima.