A Delta State High Court sitting in Akwukwu-Igbo, Judicial Division has slammed a N10 million fine on a popular blogger, Mr. Fejiro Oliver and Mr. Kingsley Kuyenum in a libel suit filed by the former member representing Ukwuani state constituency, Honourable Alphonsus Ojo.
Ojo, medical doctor had through his counsel, alleged that the bloggers published a report in which they claimed he helped a woman aborted an eight – month old pregnancy.
The lawmaker also said the bloggers defamed his character by describing him as a ‘419 Legislator’ who is unfit to represent his people in the Delta State House of Assembly, among other defamatory publications.
In his judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Manser Okoh, said the defendants who filed a memoranda condition appearance, refused to appear before the court to defend themselves, pointing out that the defendants were not able to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. He therefore imposed fines of N10 million on them as punishment for libel publications.
The lead counsel to the claimant, Gene Mowah, Esq represented by the Barrister Chiamaka Okike said the ruling would serve as a deterrent to other journalists who publish stories without cross-checking their facts and those who go about publishing falsehood against responsible and respected citizens.
Speaking on the outcome of suit, Ojo said he was elated that the court had vindicated describing the Judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
He called on journalists not to allow themselves to be used by politicians for character assassination and smear campaigns, but to be agent of change and development in playing their role as the watch dog of the society.