Court Fixes March 31 for Judgment in Criminal Defamation Law Suit Against River State

Mr Kingdom I.C. Chukwuezie

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has fixed judgment for March 31, 2022 in a suit filed by Media Rights Agenda (MRA)  against the State Government challenging the constitutionality of the offence of criminal defamation in the state’s Criminal Code Law.  The suit was filed on MRA’s behalf by Port Harcourt based human rights lawyer, Mr. Kingdom Chukwuezie

The Attorney General (AG) of River State filed a preliminary objection contending MRA’s legal right to file the suit. In his submission, the AG argued that the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) requires MRA to add the acronym “Ltd” in its name and that such was missing in MRA’s name. The AG was curious as to why MRA decided to challenge the criminal code law of River State and not any of the 36 States in Nigeria, including the Criminal Code Act of the Federation.

MRA’s counsel, Mr Kingdom Chukwuezie, challenged the AG’s position saying that the issues he raised were non-issues. He argued that MRA is neither limited by guarantee nor by shares. He pointed out that the organization is an Incorporated Trustee registered under Part C of CAMA. He submitted that the certificate of incorporation is exhibited in the suit.

The AG did not file a counter affidavit in opposition to facts averred in MRA’s testimony in effect accepting all the testimony averred.

The second party to the suit, the Commissioner of Police of Rivers State, did not file any process or send a legal representative. The judge adjourned the case to March 31, 2022, for judgment after the parties submitted their arguments.

MRA filed the suit on October 25, 2021, contending that the criminal defamation in the River State criminal code law violates Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human Rights Peoples’ Rights domesticated in Nigeria.