Misleading reports that Engr. Simbi Wabote, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB) did not file his assets at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) have been proven otherwise, Realnews reports.
An exclusive finding into the matter by Realnews, uncovered documents which showed that Wabote filed all his assets to the CCB, both when he was first appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017, and also when he was reappointed in 2020.
What has, however, happened is that a petition was written to the CCB against Wabote as a fallout of the ongoing Wabote versus Jackson Ude defamation suit which is currently ongoing in a court in the United States of America. The CCB on receiving the petition in turn, wrote Wabote asking for information which is a normal practice when an agency of government has a petition before it.
According to Realnews, the ratcheted reports that Wabote has no filing of his assets with the CCB flies in the face of evidence of an acknowledgement slip with no 0073117 from the Code of Conduct Bureau showing that Wabote attended the CCB’s Conference Assets Verification Exercise in 2017. There is also acknowledgement slip for the end of Wabote’s first tenure as the executive secretary of NCDMB and another one for the start of a new tenure.
One of the documents, Realnews sighted reads: “This is to certify that the assets declared by WABOTE KESIYE SIMBI on form CCB-1 PGAO: 000653 has been verified by the Assets verification committee, PORT HARCOURT, RIVERS STATE on This 31st of May 2017.”
The document which was signed by the federal commissioner, chairman of the committee, CCB, bears stamp on the document with the name Stephen Bekefula engraved. The document also has the signature of the declarant.
It was also gathered that Wabote fully declared his assets when he was appointed and did so again when reappointed and there are CCB acknowledgement slip to prove it.
Heritage Times had reported that there has been mischievous efforts at obfuscating issues surrounding Wabote since December 2021, when his defamation case against Ude, editor-in-chief of Pointblanknews.com in the court in United States of America gained momentum.
Meanwhile, the American Court has “dismissed and denied” motions brought by Ude pleading that the court should strike out Wabote’s case about seven times.
It however appears that ragtag reports against Wabote is to save Ude from facing a second deposition on February 9, after he failed among other things to answer questions regarding the names of his colleagues and other editors working for the Pointblank news.
Ude’s string of losses in the motions he instituted in the defamation suit Wabote brought against him has been on the increase. Between October 2021 and January 28, Ude has lost about seven motions he brought to the court seeking to upstage Wabote. On the other hand, the US court superintended by Judge Joseph Leeson Jr. has upheld all the motions sought by Wabote against Ude.
The latest dismissal took place on Thursday, January 27, at the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, whereby Judge Joseph Leeson Jr. issued another order ECF 100, denying Ude’s request for reconsideration and stating that it made its first ruling on the merits of argument, and that the court again finds no misconduct from Wabote or his attorneys.
The Thursday order came after Benneth O. Amadi, lawyer to Ude, on Wednesday, January 26, filed ECF 99, an appeal, requesting the reconsideration of the courts prior ruling that Wabote and his attorneys have not committed any misconduct regarding discovery or any alleged banking accounts.
Ude’s appeal was contained in a letter dated January 26, 2022, signed by Amadi and addressed to Honorable Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., United States District Judge, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 504 West Hamilton Street, Suite 3401, Allentown, Pennsylvania 18101.
The letter sighted by Realnews was entitled: “Re: Wabote v. Ude C.A. No. 5:21-cv-02214-JFL. Defendant’s request for a Reconsideration of this Court’s erroneous decision, Dkt. #98, on Defendant’s Request, Dkt. #91, for: Sanctions against the Plaintiff and his Attorneys for committing fraud on the court, for perjury and for acting in subornation of perjury in this case. Alternatively, Defendant requests for an order of this court mandating the Plaintiff and his attorneys to appear and show cause why they should not be held in contempt and/or sanctioned by this court.”
The letter asked Judge Leeson, Jr., “to take a second look at, and to reconsider, and prevent the manifest error and prejudice in the erroneous denial of the Defendant’s request for sanctions and/or for an order to show cause against the Plaintiff and his counsel, Dkt. #91. The reconsideration is respectfully necessary because the court committed manifest error of law or fact to the detriment and prejudice of the Defendant and the honest administration of justice in this case.”
Amadi submitted that without considering Defendant’s letter on its merits, the court denied Defendant’s said letter, Dkt. #91, on the incorrect belief that Defendant did not consult with the Plaintiff before filing the letter, among other things.
He stated that the plaintiff was duly consulted several days before the filing was made and submitted that the purpose of the “motion to reconsider is “to correct manifest errors of law or fact or present newly discovered evidence.
“Respectfully, my investigations still reveal, among other things, that those Bank Accounts associated with Plaintiff at the Zenith Bank of Nigeria and at the Fidelity Bank of Nigeria are still presently active, and still being operated to his benefit. This court is respectfully asked not to take the deceitful and fraudulent conducts of Plaintiff Wabote in this case for granted. It is noteworthy Plaintiff never revealed the existence of these bank accounts. But when their existence was discovered and revealed by the Defendant, Plaintiff started engaging in further fraudulent conducts to frustrate the honest administration of justice in this case, to the detriment and prejudice of the Defendant. Reconsideration of this court’s 1/20/22 ruling, Dkt. #98, is humbly requested in the interest of the honest administration of justice and to prevent manifest injustice.”
However, after reviewing Amadi’s lawyer request, the judge once again dismissed the motion for lacking merit. In denying the defendant’s letter-request, ECF No’s. 99, the judge explained: “The Court denies Ude’s letter-request to reconsider because he has not shown an intervening change in the law, the availability of new evidence that was not available when the Court issued its Order dated January 20, 2022, see ECF No. 98, or the need to clear error of law or fact to prevent manifest injustice. See Max’s Seafood Café ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F. 3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999).
“Contrary to Defendant’s assumption, the Court did not deny Defendant’s prior requests (ECF No’s. 90 and 91) for technical reasons only. The Court denied his request for sanctions after it considered the merits of the parties’ letter-briefs and oral arguments. See Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 44–45 (1991) (explaining that district courts have the inherent power to decide whether sanctions are imposed or not).”
It had been reported that the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, on January 5, stuck out Ude’s motion to dismiss the case of defamation.
In dismissing “Ude’s motion in its entirety,” the court viewed it as “in conclusory, boilerplate type language: insufficient process; insufficient service of process; and failure to join a party under Rule 19. Ude’s Motion does not mention these defenses again. Nor are these defenses mentioned in Ude’s Reply. As a result, the court finds these defenses to be “[t]hrow-away arguments left undeveloped [and they] are also considered waived.”
The umpteenth dismissal of Ude’s case was contained in a two-paged paged document by Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., United States District judge, in the case which listed Ude as the defendant with Wabote as the plaintiff. Contrary to Ude’s claim, Judge Leeson Jr. ruled that the “Court has subject matter jurisdiction over Wabote’s claim and also has personal jurisdiction over Ude.” In addition, the judge rule that the venue is proper against Ude’s claim who wanted the case to be in Nigeria, adding that “Forum non conveniens does not warrant dismissal”.
The court also ordered Ude to enter into a protective order before Wabote is required to disclose any banking or other personal and sensitive information. It gave Ude December 22, 2021, deadline for completion of fact discovery in the original scheduling order and to file dispositive motions by January 4, 2022, while all other deadlines remain in full force and effect.
He ordered that Ude’s failure to comply with this Order may result in a Show Cause Order or contempt proceedings.
According to court document sighted by Realnews, “Jackson Ude, a former Nigerian citizen now residing in Pennsylvania, owns and maintains a website where he publishes Nigerian news articles. One such article accuses Simbi Kesiye Wabote of accepting bribes and paints him as a corrupt Nigerian government official. Wabote filed suit against Ude in this Court, claiming that the article constitutes defamation.
“From Ude’s perspective, Wabote’s lawsuit is baseless, and its true purpose is to harass Ude. For this reason, Ude filed counterclaims against Wabote alleging abuse of process, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.
“Both parties then filed motions to dismiss the others’ claims. For the reasons below, the Court denies Ude’s motion and grants Wabote’s motion.”
The court dismissed the counterclaims on November 24, upon consideration of the parties’ letter briefs and after a telephone conference held on November 22, during which both parties presented argument.
The court document sighted by Realnews stated that both Wabote (Plaintiff) and Ude (defendant) were represented by their attorneys Michael D. Cilento and Benneth Onyema Amadi, respectively.
Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., United States District judge, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who presided over the case, ordered that “The court Plaintiff’s Request… is moot because Defendant’s counterclaims have been dismissed.” Leeson stated that Ude’s (Plaintiff) Interrogatory is moot because his counterclaims have been dismissed.
The order stated that: “Depositions for Mr. Wabote and Mr. Ude are to be held in person within the area encompassed by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The judge overruled Ude’s objections to Wabote’s requests for production of evidence. “Defendant is ordered to produce the documents requested in Plaintiff’s Requests for Production 1–14 or, if Defendant does not possess the requested documents, inform Plaintiff of such, in a writing signed by defense counsel and also signed by the defendant,” the judge ordered.
The court also overruled Ude’s objections to Wabote’s interrogatories and ordered him to answer them fully and completely.
According to the court documents, “the facts of this section are taken largely from the Amended Complaint and accepted as true, with all reasonable inferences drawn in Wabote’s favor for purposes of deciding Ude’s Motion to Dismiss. See Lundy v. Monroe Cty. Dist. Attorney’s Office, No. 3:17-CV-2255, 2017 WL 9362911, at *1 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 11, 2017), report and recommendation adopted, 2018 WL2219033 (M.D. Pa. May 15, 2018). The Court’s recitation of the facts does not include legal conclusions or contentions unless necessary for context. See Brown v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan of Mid-Atl. States, Inc., No. 1:19-CV-1190, 2019 WL 7281928, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 27, 2019). For purposes of deciding Wabote’s Motion to Dismiss, the Court accepts as true all facts alleged by Ude in the Counterclaim. See Counter. ECF No. 14.”
In the court document, which was sighted by Realnews, Judge Leeson, Jr. struck out Ude’s case on “5th day of January 2022, … after considering the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss defendant’s amended counterclaims and affirmative defenses in the action, and the defendant’s response,” based on the reasons given in the Court’s October 21, 2021, opinion in the case.
The court dismissed “Ude’s counterclaims without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” According to the judge, Ude’s “amended counterclaims are little more than a copy and paste of his dismissed counterclaims. Defendant simply dresses the amended counterclaims with the necessary elements, but “a formulaic recitation of a cause of action’s elements will not do,” citing the case of Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 540, 545 (2007).”
The judge stated that “at their core, Ude’s amended counterclaims still suffer from the same deficiencies as his original counterclaims. For that reason, there is no need to further analyze the amended counterclaims with another lengthy opinion; the Court hereby incorporates its October 21, 2021, Opinion as its reasoning for dismissing Defendant’s amended counterclaims.”
Also, the “Court dismisses Defendant’s amended counterclaims with prejudice because he had an opportunity to cure his counterclaims’ deficiencies but did not. Any additional amendments would therefore be futile. See Boyd v. New Jersey Dept. of Corrections, 583 Fed. Appx. 30, 32 (3d Cir. 2014).”
Ude has been struggling to defend himself in the defamation suit when for the third time in a space of one month the US court ruled against Ude in a complicated case of motions both him and Wabote brought against each other. In one of the order, the American court squashed the subpoenas Ude issued to five banks, including three from Nigeria to provide Wabote’s banking details.
Prior to this, Realnews on December 22, 2021, reported that the while dismissing his motion during one of the court sessions, the court ordered Ude to enter into a protective order before Wabote is required to disclose any banking or other personal and sensitive information. It gave Ude December 22, 2021, deadline for completion of fact discovery in the original scheduling order and to file dispositive motions by January 4, 2022, while all other deadlines remain in full force and effect.
Also, on January 5, 2022, the court while dismissing “Ude’s motion in its entirety” viewed it as “in conclusory, boilerplate type language: insufficient process; insufficient service of process; and failure to join a party under Rule 19. Ude’s Motion does not mention these defenses again. Nor are these defenses mentioned in Ude’s Reply. As a result, the court finds these defenses to be “[t]hrow-away arguments left undeveloped [and they] are also considered waived.” (to see details click the link)
Another court order against the publisher of the Pointblanknews.com was given by Leeson, Jr. on “this 12th day of January, 2022, upon consideration of Plaintiff’s letter-briefs, see ECF Nos. 81 and 84, Defendant’s response letter-brief, see ECF No. 85, and after a telephone conference held on this date,1 during which both parties’ presented argument.”
Again, the editor-in-chief of Pointblanknews.com, lost his reliefs in the defamation suit on January 20, when the court denied his motion and granted that of Wabote. The court gave its order after listening to both Wabote and Ude represented by their lawyers who argued their cases on Wednesday, January 19.
The court in ECF 97 Order which Realnews sighted granted the plaintiff’s (Wabote) request and stated that Ude (Defendant) must sit for an additional deposition and must answer all questions that he is asked, including all questions surrounding PointBlankNews and the identities of the reporters and editors that allegedly worked there and worked on the defamatory story.
Ude during his earlier deposition December 21, 2021, evaded providing the names of his colleagues at the Pointblanknews.com on the grounds that they are endangered by the nature of the investigative work they do Nigeria and could be killed if their identities are known.
Also, the court ordered Ude’s attorney not allowed or make any speaking objections during the additional deposition, adding that he should not coach the witness during deposition. Realnews reports that the transcript of the deposition showed that Wabote’s counsel had argued with Ude’s lawyer that he was speaking during objection and trying to coach him during deposition.
In ECF 98 Order, the judge denied Ude’s requests and ordered that the Wabote does not need to respond further to interrogatories or document requests. The order stated that Wabote does not need to respond to the false allegations surrounding the Tee & T company or its bank accounts.
The court ruled that Wabote and his attorneys have not committed any perjury or fraud and have acted completely proper throughout the litigation and discovery process.
Judge Leeson Jr. made the order following a letter Cilento wrote to the court on January 19, 2022, requesting the court among other things, to dismiss the letter-briefs from Ude to the court dated January 14, 2022 (ECF 90), January 15, 2022 (ECF 91) and January 14, 2022 (ECF 90) and media reports on which the allegation of perjury is hinged.
It was gathered that on January 10, 2022, Wabote (Plaintiff) served Ude (Defendant) with responses to the later’s “Second Requests for Production and Interrogatories (the “Responses”) in compliance with this Court’s Order of December 21, 2021 (ECF 74).”
However, Cilento, in his letter, stated: “For the first time, on Friday, January 14, at 3:33pm, Defendant raised certain issues with the Responses, requesting that Plaintiff supplement the Responses within one hour by 4:30pm that same day. Defendant then immediately filed his ECF 90 letter that same night, obviously making no real attempt to discuss or resolve the purported discovery issues.”
Because of this, counsel to Wabote urged the court to “outright reject Defendant’s January 14, 2022 letter for failing to meaningfully confer or attempt resolution as required by Your Honor’s Policies and Procedures.”
He also explained to the court that Wabote “has submitted responses to Defendant’s purported issues, as shown in the true and correct copy of a letter dated and sent today to Defendant’s counsel attached hereto as Exhibit A. January 15, 2022 (ECF 91) Letter”
According to the Cilento’s letter, which Realnews sighted, Ude and “his counsel’s January 15, 2022, letter is the most recent frivolous and ludicrous attempt by Defendant and his counsel to manipulate and deceive this Court and the public, and to spin fake news narratives out of this case.”
It was after the court granted Cilento’s reliefs that Ude’s lawyer went to court again and lost out on behalf of his client. What this means is that Ude will now sit for his second deposition on February 9, during which he is expected to reveal the names of the reporters and editors who worked with him on the defamation story. It should be recalled that Ude, in his first deposition, refused to reveal their names because he claimed that their lives are endangered because of the dangerous work they do in Nigeria in unravelling corruption in government.
However, the judge ruled that he can provide the names of the reporters and editors without stating which portions of the story they contributed to.
Since the efforts of Amadi to stop his client from revealing the names of the reporters have failed, interest parties will now wait for the outcome of the February 9, deposition to see if Ude will under oath reveal the names of his colleagues in court.