Justice Abiodun Akinyemi of an Ogun State High Court in Abeokuta has slammed N500 million damages against a United Kingdom-based blogger, Maureen Badejo, for libellous publications against the General Overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (Worldwide), Dr Daniel Olukoya, and the church.
The Court also granted “a perpetual injunction restraining the defendant by herself, her agents, servants, privies or other persons howsoever called or described from further making, publishing and/or disseminating defamatory stories and statements about the claimants or any one of them.”
The Judge described the report as the worst case of reckless defamation and evil use of the internet and social media.
Badejo, the anchorperson in the Facebook-GIO TV, had published what the Incorporated Trustees of the MFM and Olukoya described as 52 lies.
She was said to have reported that Olukoya defrauded the government of the United States by selling his books in America without paying the due tax on the books.
GIO TV, among others, had reported that a particular Pastor from MFM in the UK paid the sum of £150,000 into the personal account of Olukoya and then went to Nigeria to meet the cleric so he could help him cover up his fraud.
But delivering his ruling in a N10 billion libel suit filed by Ime Nya Asanga (lawyer to the plaintiffs), Justice Akinyemi awarded N250 million to each of the claimants, making a total of N500 million as aggravated and exemplary damages for libel.
The Judge also ordered Badejo to “immediately pull down and erase each of the offending online publications/posts concerning the claimants from the internet”.
She was also ordered to “tender a written apology and retraction of the offending publications and posts in a form and content acceptable to the claimants and published prominently in her Facebook, YouTube and Instagram accounts and in at least three nationally circulating Newspapers in Nigeria and two international magazines including TIME International, forthwith.”
The Spokesperson of Olukoya, Collins Edomaruse, quoted Asanga on Saturday as saying that a certified true copy of the judgment and its certificate with Form 35 endorsed thereon, had been served via DHL courier with proof of service which indicated that Badejo had received the court ruling.
He explained that Ogun State High Court Form 35 titled ‘Notice Of Consequence of Disobedience To Order Of Court’ was an endorsement by the Registrar on the Certificate of Judgment.
According to him, unless the judgment debtor obeys the directions contained therein, he/she would be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison.
“If, after February 18, 2021, the defendant should make any other broadcast defamatory of the claimants or any one of them, contempt proceedings, which are criminal in nature, will immediately be commenced against her,” the lawyer clarified.