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ALHAJI A.R. SULE & ORS v. MR. J. ORISAJIMI

(2019) LPELR-47039(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 15th day of March, 2019

SC.46/2006


Before Their Lordships

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

KUMAI BAYANG AKA'AHS Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

AMIRU SANUSI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

SIDI DAUDA BAGE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

1. ALHAJI A. R. SULE
2. REGISTRAR, KWARA STATE POLYTECHNIC
3. KWARA STATE POLYTECHNIC - Appellant(s)

AND

MR. J. ORISAJIMI - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Libel.
FACTS:
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division delivered on 5th January, 2006 in respect of an appeal filed by the Appellant against the judgment of the High Court dated 2nd April, 2004.

The Respondent commenced this suit by a Writ of Summons dated 30th December 1999 claiming One Million Naira (N1,000,000.00) damages for alleged libel committed by publication in a document dated 18th August, 1997. The case of the Respondent was that he was employed by the 3rd Appellant in 1992 as a Principal Instructor Grade II. His appointment was later terminated by the Appellants through Exhibit P5. However, in paragraph 4 of the Exhibit, the 3rd Appellant expressed appreciation for the service of the Respondent during his tenure. The Respondent subsequently secured another employment at the Federal Polytechnic, Offa and applied to the 3rd Respondent for the transfer of his cumulative service.

In response to the request, the 3rd Appellant published a statement to the effect that the Respondent was involved in examination malpractices and financial impropriety. This statement was then published to the Federal Polytechnic, Offa without soliciting for same as contained in Exhibit 2. Consequently, the Respondent's employment was terminated. At trial, the Court gave judgement in favour of the Respondent on the ground that he had proved his claim and that the defences of justification and absolute privilege did not avail the Appellants on the ground that they did not prove the truth of the allegations of examination malpractice against the Respondent. The Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal which also dismissed the appeal and confirmed the judgment of the High Court in a majority decision, with Aboji John Ikongbeh, JCA dissenting. 

Still being dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:
The Court determined the appeal on these issues couched as follows:

1) Whether the learned Justice of the Court of Appeal in their majority decision were right in holding that the Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit which culminated in this appeal.

2) Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal in their majority decision were right in holding that the defence of qualified privilege which was not pleaded cannot avail the Appellants.

3) Whether the learned Justice of the Court of Appeal were right in holding that the Respondent had discharged the onus on him to prove libel.

DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same.


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