Court Slams N30 Million Damages Against Linda Ikeji

Linda Ikeji Ordered to Pay N30 Million in Damages

A Delta State High Court sitting in Effurun has awarded a sum of N30 million as general damage against Linda Ikeji over her libelous publication against the Neo Black Movement (NBM) of Africa.

The presiding judge, Justice Roli Daibo-Harriman, in her rulings on Monday also awarded a sum of N300,000 being cost of litigations against the Nigerian blogger.

The court also ordered Ikeji to place a publication in her blog and national dailies retracting the libelous publication complained about.

besides that, Ikeji, a defendant in case number EHC/210/2021, was given an injunction to stop publishing any more defamatory statements about the plaintiffs and other NBM of Africa members.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit were Mayor Onyebueke, Ese Kakor, Felix Kupa, and the Registered Trustees of NBM of Africa. The NBM of Africa and three other parties brought Ikeji before the court after she ignored the demand letter for a retraction and apology about the defamatory post that was posted on her blog on October 19, 2021. The blogger allegedly called NBM of Africa a criminal organization, a terrible cult group, a black axe, and other derogatory terms in her posting on October 19, 2021.

Consequently, the claimants prayed the court for an award of N1 billion only and an unreserved apology to be published in her blog and two national newspapers and among others.

In her rulings, Justice Daibo-Harriman clearly described the words, dreaded cultist group, black axe, criminal organusation and others as used by the defendant in her libelous publication as all defamatory.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the court’s proceedings, lead counsel to the Claimants, Mr Kelvin Agbroko said that it was a well deserved judgement.

“This will serve as lesson to bloggers that it is not every item you published. It is good to verify information before making a publication.

“NBM of Africa is a legal organisation duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

“The publication made by the defendant against my client has been cleared that is was a damaging publication.

“NBM is good to go, we are going to take all necessary steps to enforce the terms of the judgement against her.

“It was an erudite judgement that is all encompassing and will be difficult to fault,” Agbroko said.

Also responding to the judgement the President of NBM of Africa, Mr Ese Kakor said that the case had been on for about two years.

He said that the judgement was a warning to bloggers and other members of the public not to call people or organisations names that were not ascribed to them in a bid to blackmail or defamed their characters.

“What Ikeji did was just to sell in a bid to defame the character of NBM of Africa, it is very wrong.

“I advised other blogger not to follow same steps as they may also face similar litigation.

“Do not try and defame peoples character. NBM has nothing to do with cultism, black axe. It is not a criminal organisation but a well registered organisation,” he said.

Kakor, however, advised the public to be law abiding and do things within the ambits of the law.

The defendant was not present in court neither was she represented.

As the legal drama comes to an end, it should serve as a sobering reminder of the authority and accountability media professionals have in influencing public opinion. In the future, it will be the responsibility of bloggers and journalists to report with thoroughness and honesty, or else they risk facing legal repercussions for blurring the boundaries between free speech and defamation.

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