MOUNTAIN of Fire and Miracles (MFM) ministries general overseer Dr Daniel Olukoya has been awarded N500m ($1.31m) damages by an Ogun State high court against a UK-based blogger Maureen Badejo who was adjudged to have published libelous stories about him.
Justice Abiodun Akinyemi of the Ogun State High Court in Abeokuta had delivered the judgment for aggravated libel. In its judgement, 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.
In his ruling, the judge described the report as the worst case of reckless defamation and evil use of the internet and social media. Ms Badejo, anchor person in the Facebook-GIO TV, had published what the Incorporated Trustees of MFM and Olukoya, described as 52 lies.
She was said to have reported that Dr Olukoya defrauded the government of the US by selling his books in America without paying the due tax on the books, while his son Elijah Toluwani Olukoya had N6bn in Heritage Bank in Nigeria. GIO TV, among others, had reported that a particular pastor from MFM in the UK paid £150,000 into the personal account of Dr Olukoya and then went to Nigeria to meet the cleric so he could help him cover up his fraud.
MFM spokesman Collins Edomaruse, said: “By this development, the judgement of Justice Abiodun Adeyemi becomes, for all intents and purposes, a judgement of the Queen’s Bench Division and will soon be executed on the judgment-debtor, Maureen Badejo, in that country.”
Justice Akinyemi awarded N250m to each of the claimants. making a total of N500m as aggravated and exemplary damages for libel. He also ordered Ms 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. Mr Edomaruse, said that a certified true copy of the judgment and its certificate with Form 35 endorsed thereon, had been served vide DHL courier with proof of service, indicating that Ms Badejo had received the court ruling.