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N5bn Libel Suit: EFCC Boss, Magu, Closes Case Against Sun Newspaper

Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has closed his case in a N5billion libel suit he filed against the publishers of the Sun Newspaper.

At the resumption of proceedings on Thursday, Magu’s counsel, Mr. E. O. Omoijaede, informed the court that the claimant (Magu) had presented two witnesses and would want to close his case.

“This case was adjourned for continuation of trial. However, we will be applying that my lord closes the case for the claimant. We will be requesting a date for the defendants to open their case,” Omoijaede said.

Mr. Charles Ewelunta, counsel to the respondents, expressed dissatisfaction at the development.

“The claimant’s counsel should have closed the case instead of wasting everyone’s time. I am supposed to be out of town at an election petition tribunal. I have been sitting here just for them to say they are closing their case. I will be asking for a cost of N50,000,” Ewelunta said.

Responding, Omojiade said that the publishers of the Sun Newspaper should save time by opening their case immediately.

“From our end, we are even helping the defendant by closing our case especially as they are in a hurry to open their case. We have already called two witnesses. If their own witnesses are in court, they should open their case,” he said.

Justice Doris Okuwobi, refused Ewelunta’s request for N50,000 cost against Magu’s legal team, saying that the suit which was filed in 2017, had not suffered any delay caused by the team.

“This case is adjourned until September 17 for further hearing,” she said.

Magu sued the publishers of the Sun, claiming N5 billion in damages over a publication that alleged that the Department of State Services uncovered two houses in Maitama, Abuja, which were traced to his wife.

The EFCC boss is also demanding that the newspaper should publish an apology and retract the alleged libelous publication.

Magu and one of the top EFCC investigators,  Usman Zakari, the Head of Intelligence and Special Operations Unit of the EFCC, gave evidence for the claimant.

While giving evidence on April 18, Zakari said that he had worked closely with Magu but started to view him 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 as high regard as before. The claimant does not have any property out of the country. He has a house in Karo, a farmhouse in Karshi area of Abuja, and a family house in Maiduguri.

“I have visited those three properties; he does not have any property outside Nigeria; that publication falsely mentioned he owned two property in the high brow area of Maitama, Abuja,” Zakari said.

In his evidence on December 17, 2018, Magu denied owning two houses in Maitama, Abuja.

He said, “The publication is totally false. Even if I have the money, I wouldn’t buy houses in Maitama. They said the houses are located in the Darrubbe and Missouri, Maitama and that they belong to my wife. My wife, Fatima Yakaka Magu, is a civil servant and cannot afford to buy houses in Maitama. I am an international man and the publication has damaged my reputation. The name Magu does not end with me. The publication caused a whole lot of trauma for my lineage.”
 

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