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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Ex-Nigerian Ambassador to Jamaica, Onoh closes defence in ex-Minister Onyeama’s libel suit

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A Nigerian career ambassador, Ms Lilian Onoh has closed her defence on Thursday in a libel suit instituted against her by a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama at the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Zuba division of Abuja.

Onyeama, accused Lilian Onoh, a career diplomat with the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of waging a vendetta war against him.

The ex-Minister sued Ms Onoh for libel before Justice, Keziah Ogbonnaya.

But Ms Onoh, a former Nigerian ambassador to Namibia and Jamaica and daughter of late Christian Onoh, an erstwhile governor of old Anambra State, denied the allegations.

Onyeama’s lawyer, Agada Elachi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), while cross-examining Ms Onoh on Thursday, said, “it is obvious from your testimony that this is a personal vendetta against the claimant (Mr Onyeama).”

The senior lawyer also asked Ms Onoh if she was investigated by the Foreign Affairs Ministry concerning an allegation of financial misappropriation.

In her response, Ms Onoh said Onyeama as Minister vigorously pursued personal vengeance against her because her sister divorced the ex-minister.

“Geoffrey Onyeama has been pursuing a vendetta against me because my sister divorced him on account of his mental hereditary insanity.

“Onyeama spent six years destroying my career because my sister divorced him on account of his unhinged psychiatric problem,” Ms Onoh told the court during a tense hearing on Thursday as she testified via Zoom from her base in the United States of America.

She was led in her defense by her lawyer, Monday Ejeh.

Responding to the fraud allegation by Onyeama, Ms Onoh said contrary to a media publication that she had been sacked from service, the ex-minister did not set-up any investigative panel to probe the allegation.

“Mr Onyeama and the Permanent Secretary (Gabriel Aduda) concerted lies and published them in Sahara Reporters.”

The subject of the press publication by Sahara Reporters about her sack forms a major defamation suit in the U.S against Onyeama and Aduda as well as the media outlet.

In court filings, Ms Onoh accused the former Foreign Affairs Minister of using Sahara Reporters, a New York-based online newspaper, to defame her.

The Ex-Nigerian envoy told the court that the purported letter of her dismissal from service was fake having not been authorised by the Federal Civil Service Commission, the hiring agency for the federal government of Nigeria.

At the end of Thursday’s proceedings when Ms Onoh closed her testimony, the judge adjourned further hearing till April 15 for adoption of final written addresses by Messrs Elachi and Ejeh in their clients’ suits.

Ms Onoh also filed a counter claim against the former Minister, Onyeama.

The ludge said the 4th and 5th defendants – Akelicious Media Company and Newswire Law Events & Magazine – never entered appearance or filed any papers in the suit.

Ms Onoh’s petition to former President Muhammadu Buhari formed a major thrust of the libel suit.

In the petition to Buhari, Ms Onoh had detailed series of alleged corrupt acts involving Onyeama and top officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But Onyeama found the petition libelous as he accused Ms Onoh of granting press interviews where the issues were applied.

However, in her statement of defence, Ms Onoh said she played her role as patriotic citizen who was interested in ending corruption by reporting to the appropriate authority, and never granted an interview to the aforementioned media outlets.

Ms Onoh noted in her depositions that the House of Representatives had rejected the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2023 budget estimates on account of Onyeama’s suffocation of foreign missions by “unlawfully refusing to spend allocated funds.”

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