An Abuja High Court has dismissed a N2billion suit by a former Minister of Power and Steel, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu against a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
Dalhatu, a former minister under the late Gen Sani Abacha regime had filed a N2.1billion libel suit on February 7, 2007 against Ribadu and Daar Communications Plc.
According to the libel suit filed by the lawyer to Dalhatu, Mr. Yunus Usman (SAN), the plantiff alleged that Ribadu had while addressing the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on November 2006 made the libellous statement against him which was broadcast by Daar Communications Plc.
But Ribadu had through his lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), insisted that he was prepared to justify every sting of the libelous publication.
The plaintiff gave evidence for himself and call four other witnesses while Ribadu called an official of the EFCC to testify on his behalf
In a considered judgment delivered on Tuesday, Justice Olasumbo Goodluck upheld the submissions of Falana who contended on behalf of Ribadu that the plaintiff had failed to prove that he was defamed by the statement credited to Ribadu.
In view of the evidence of qualified privilege and justification canvassed by Ribadu, Justice Gooluck held that Dalhatu was not defamed having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case.
In particular, the judge found that the allegation that Dalhatu duped his client was not challenged because evidence was led to show that even though he collected $15 million from the Federal Government on behalf of his foreign client, he only remitted $6.5 million while the remaining $8.5 million was not accounted for.
Dalhatu had claimed that Ribadu made libellous statement against him when he spoke in the following words "....I can name names of lawyers who struggle over 419 cases. I know, I can talk some of these we have facts and figures. For example, Bashir Dalhatu, he is a lawyer, we have a case we are investigating. He took $15 million from the Government of Nigeria. He said he was going to give to somebody whose ship was destroyed by the Buhari administration for illegal bunkering.
"They went and got Babangida to approve and they took $15 million. The same guy went to a judge, his own classmate, Justice Auta to give him a court order that we can't prosecute him. Yes it happened in our country..."