The High Court of Justice in Abeokuta, Ogun State has delivered its judgment in a N10bn libel claim against UK-based Vlogger Maureen Badejo.
The Incorporated Trustees of Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministries and its General Overseer – Dr. D. K. Olukoya as the 1st and 2nd Claimants respectively commenced the case on 7th September 2020 to claim sundry relief against Maureen Badejo for continuous and sustained libel published by her through free-to-air broadcasts in the social media particularly Facebook, You-Tube and Instagram.
Court records reveal that Maureen was served all documents and hearing notices in the case by the DHL courier service but chose to stay away from the proceedings and continue relentlessly in her damaging broadcasts.
In his judgment delivered on Tuesday 9th February 2021, the trial Judge – the Hon. Justice Abiodun A. Akinyemi, while describing Maureen Badejo’s ruthless campaign against the Claimants as the worst case of reckless defamation and evil use of the internet and social media, awarded the sum of N250million to each of the Claimants (making a total of N500million) as aggravated and exemplary damages for libel.
The Court also ordered Defendant (Maureen) to
1.immediately pull down and erase each of the offending online publications/posts concerning the Claimants from the internet.
2.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, You-Tube and Instagram accounts and in at least three nationally circulating newspapers in Nigeria and two international magazines including Time International, FORTHWITH
3.Perpetual Injunction restraining the Defendant (Maureen) 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.
Asked whether Maureen has been made aware of the Judgment, Counsel to the Claimants – Ime Nya Asanga Esq. responded that a certified true copy of the judgment and a certificate of the judgment with Form 35 endorsed thereon, had been served vide DHL courier on Maureen and that the proof of service indicates that she personally signed for them at 09:20 am of Thursday, 18th February 2021
Barrister Asanga went on to explain that Ogun State High Court Form 35 titled NOTICE OF CONSEQUENCE OF DISOBEDIENCE TO ORDER OF COURT is an endorsement by the Registrar on the Certificate of Judgment, warning that unless the judgment debtor obeys the directions contained therein, he/she will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison.
He warned that if, after 18th February 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.
It is expected that now that a judicial pronouncement has been made on her broadcasts as they affect MFM and Dr. Olukoya, the defendant would seek wise guidance or counsel herself to safety having now realised that social media grandstanding is a far cry from legal responsibility and justification of words spoken or published.