Libel: Awujale’s N200 billion suit against Aiyefele’s radio begins October

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Hearing in the N200 billion libel suit filed by the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, against Yinka Aiyefele Limited, owner of Internet Fresh FM 105.9 Radio Station, is expected to begin October before Justice Olusola Adetujoye of an Oyo State High Court, sitting in Ibadan. gathered that the hearing could not commence in the matter on July 13, owing to the absence of the respondent’s lawyer.

In his 11-paragraph statement of claim, Oba Adetona is seeking N200 billion as compensation for damages for the alleged libel contained in a radio programme titled, “Talk Your Own with Chikito Duru” allegedly written and published by the defendant on its Fresh FM 105.9 Ibadan on December 22, 2019. It was said to be simultaneously transmitted and stored in its news server from December 22, 2019 daily till September 4, 2020 vide internet website with address www.facebook.comfreshfmibadan videos on behalf of the defendant.

The traditional ruler is also seeking an order of injunction restraining the defendant by itself, servants, agents or otherwise from further publishing or causing to be published the same or similar defamatory words of or concerning the claimant and cost of the suit.

Yinka Aiyefele Limited is the sole defendant in the suit marked I/972/2020 filed by the Awujale through his counsel, O. Ayanlaja, SAN of M/S Ayanlaja, Adesanya & Co.
Ayanlaja said the words used on the radio programme referred and were understood to refer to the claimant in their natural and ordinary meaning and were calculated to disparage the claimant in his status as a person of global repute and in his office as the Awujale and paramount ruler of Ijebuland.

Ayanlaja said the claimant had also been injured in his credit, character and reputation and lowered in his estimation in the mind of right thinking members of the society and hurt in his feelings.
The claimant insisted that the defendant was aware that the said words were defamatory and are untrue, since it was alleged to have occurred in 1984.

He alleged that the defendant was reckless to check whether or not the publication was true, but blinded by the prospect of the material advantage of using the person and office of the claimant to attract more listeners to its programmes.

“The claimant’s reputation and integrity have been damaged by the false publication as people who held the claimant in high esteem have been made to doubt his honour and even expressed their doubts to his face by asking why he raised a heinous curse on the Ijebus and the Nigerian nation and which curse has brought destruction and economic calamity to Ijebuland and the Nigerian nation at large.”

“The monarch averred that sometime between January and May 2020, he received various phone calls from some of his subjects in Nigeria and in the Diaspora that some negative stories were trending on the website of the defendant.

“On August 10, 2020, the claimant through his counsel, wrote to the defendant for an apology, the retraction of the libelous publication, that same be completely removed from the internet radio server programme of the defendant and payment of damages,” Ayanlaja said.

The lawyer noted that the defendant refused, neglected to respond to the claimant’s letter but rather sent a delegation on August 20, 2020 to the chambers of  the solicitor to the claimant with entreaties.
He said the defendant thereafter on September 4, 2020 removed the internet radio publication from its server after trending for over eight months.

The monarch contended that contrary to the broadcast on the radio station of the defendant, there was no time that he pronounced a curse on Ijebuland and that the buildings at the company were intact as there was no fire outbreak at the site.

He stated that one of his chiefs, Dr. Fassy Yusuf, had sometime in May 2020, first called his attention to the programme about his person and office as the Awujale and paramount ruler of Ijebuland.

“However, in the early part of January 2020, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, whose name is mentioned in the discussion in the programme (which by then had not been brought to my knowledge),  had approached him that his boys came to him to request I pray for Ijebuland so as to reverse the curse, which was alleged I put on them following the burning down of the factory of Wadai Industries in 1984.

“The claimant said he ignored the approach for the reversal of the alleged curse, since no such thing occurred and there was no fire incident in the Wadai Shoes factory,” the lawyer said.

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