Makkah Eye Specialist Hospital, Bauchi, a subsidiary of Saudi-based Al-Basar International Foundation, has pleaded for additional time to present witnesses to prove an alleged defamatory case against WikkiTimes, a pro-north accountability newspaper.
When the matter with suit number BA/36/21 came up for hearing before the presiding judge Justice K.N. Hamidu at Bauchi State High Court No. 2 on Tuesday, counsel to Makkah Hospital, Babangida Aliyu demanded additional time to put together their witnesses and present to the court.
The hospital had instituted a legal suit against WikkiTimes, its publisher, Haruna Mohammed Salisu and a reporter, Idris Kamal following an investigative report that detailed how the clinic shortchanged Bauchi State Government in taxes, retrenchment of indigenous staff, inflating prices of drugs and other services meant to be rendered to patients at subsidised rates contrary to its philanthropic founding creed.
Prior to that, authorities at the hospital threatened WikkiTimes publisher for exposing their shady deals.
In the suit, Makkah Clinic prayed for N1,000,000,000 damages and another N5,000,000 to cover the cost of the suit and solicitors fee.
In his ruling, Justice Hamidu adjourned the case to December 11 to allow counsel to Makkah Eye Clinic to present witnesses before the court.
Barrister S.G. Idris, counsel to WikkiTimes said the consistent inability of counsel of the hospital to present their witnesses to the court has been dragging the case for quite some time.
“It is a clear indication that Makkah Eye Clinic are not ready to continue with the case,” he said.
Barrister Idris further explained that his clients served the hospital with several hearing notices despite being the defendant in the case, but the hospital has repeatedly refused to show interest to pursue the case.
WikkiTimes recalls that the court had awarded N40,000 damages each to WikkiTimes, its publisher, reporter and one other person joint in the case for the failure of Makkah Hospital to appear before the court despite being served with hearing notices.
However, the hospital is yet to pay the damages to the defendants.