Justice Njideka Nwosu-Iheme of the Federal Capital Territory High Court has awarded N5.5 million ($13,000 approx.) in damages to the legal counsel for detained Indigenous People of Biafra leader (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, Ifeanyi Ejiofor.
The court also issued a permanent order barring the defendant, Emeka Ugwuonye, Executive Director of Due Process Advocate, and his representatives, from making or publishing any defamatory statements about Ejiofor.
Ejiofor had filed a suit, number CV/535/2022, against Ugwuonye, demanding N5.1 billion ($12 million approx.) over an alleged defamatory publication.
Ugwuonye had accused Ejiofor of being under investigation by the EFCC for fraud and forgery. The damaging material was reportedly published online and shared with third parties from February 5-8, 2022.
Among the reliefs sought by Ejiofor included the following:
“A declaration that the publications variously made by the defendant of and concerning the claimant, on the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 12th of February, 2022, the particulars of which are contained in the statement of claim, are defamatory of the claimant.
“An order of the Honourable Court directing the defendant to forthwith publish a full retraction of the utterly libellous publications and an unqualified apology to the claimant in at least three national Newspapers with nationwide circulation.
“An order of the Honourable Court directing the defendant to forthwith publish a written undertaking not to publish any similar or further libel of and concerning the claimant.
“A perpetual order of injunction restraining the defendant, his agents, associates, privies, and/or proxies howsoever called, from publishing any similar or further libel of and concerning the claimant.
“The sum of N5,000,000,000:00 (Five Billion Naira Only) as general and exemplary damages.
“The sum of N100,000,000:00 (Hundred Million Naira Only) being the cost of this action.”
Justice Nwosu-Iheme in the judgement obtained by journalists in Abuja on Tuesday ordered that the publications variously made by the defendant concerning Ejiofor on February 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 12 2022, the particulars of which were contained in the statement of claim, were defamatory.
The court also ordered the defendant (Emeka Ugwuonye) to forthwith publish a full retraction of the utterly libellous publications apology to the claimant (Sir Ifeanyi Ejiofor) in at least three national Newspapers with nationwide circulation, including Punch, Daily Times, and Premium Times.
The defendant was also ordered to forthwith publish a written undertaking not to publish any similar or further libel of and concerning the claimant.
Other orders made by the court included, “Perpetual injunction restraining the defendant (Emeka Ugwuonye) his agents, associates, privies and/or proxies howsoever called, from publishing any similar or further libel of and concerning the Claimant (Sir Ejiofor).
“The sum of N5 million only as general and exemplary damages. The sum of N500 thousand being the cost of this action.”
Reacting to the judgement, Ejiofor said, “Be rest assured that this judgment shall be executed to the letter. I immensely thank my colleagues in chambers and Barrister Maxwell Opara, who worked assiduously to secure this victory.
“Ugwuonye’s ilks, including a certain lawyer in America who ought to have known better, are by this publication put on notice that- it does not matter who you are or whom you’re affiliated with or where you are; it is only a matter of time. But I shall ensure that the long arm of the law catches up with you, and you shall definitely pay for the irreparable damages caused.
“Now that I am done with the civil proceedings in the instant case, I shall now proceed with criminal proceedings against the said cyberstalkers pursuant to the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015.
“If you are courageous enough to commit a crime, you should also be courageous enough to face the inescapable consequences of your actions. The other suits I initiated against some of these social media noisemakers are ongoing, and upon the conclusion of same, I shall make the necessary update(s).”