Chief Obinna Iyiegbu, popularly known as Obi Cubana, has slammed a whopping N1 billion law suit against publishers of Lagos based newspapers “PM Express” at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over publication of defamatory information against him.
Obi Cubana in the suit dated and filed on April 27, 2022 by his lawyer, Mr. Afam Osigwe (SAN), is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the defendants either by themselves, agents, third party, media outfits etc from publishing, advertising, promoting, distributing, circulating and serializing the news article, which is the subject matter of the suit on the internet, social media, Facebook and other social platforms, containing allegations and insinuations that he is involved in drug trafficking.
In the suit marked: CV/1367/2022, Chief Iyiegbu stated that he had suffered severe losses since the defendants, in their publication of April 26, 2022 presented him as a drug baron whose bank accounts have been frozen by the orders of a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Defendants in the suit are David Odey, Arinze Alinnor, Funsho Arogundade, Cyriacus Izulekwe and Taiwo Adelu, carrying on business in the name and style of DAFCT Communications.
In the statement of claim, Chief Iyiegbu accused the defendants of ‘’maliciously’’ using his photography in publishing a story in which the entire story as well as reported court order has absolutely nothing to do with him.
According to the claimant, the defendants had on April 26, 2022 published on their website: www.pmexpressng.com a story with headline ‘’Court Orders Banks to Freeze Suspected Drug Barons’ Accounts’’ with his picture used as that of one of the two suspected drug barons, Basil Okafor Onochie and Okwuchukwu Edwin Izuxhukwu, whose accounts were reportedly ordered frozen by Justice Tijjani Ringim in the suit filed by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
In supporting his suit of malice against the defendants he stated that he is a very well-known figure, whose name and image (photo) cannot be mistaken for either Basil Okafor Onochie or Okwuchukwu Edwin Izuchukwu, the suspected drug barons whose accounts were ordered to be frozen by the court.
Chief Iyiebu submitted that inherent in the action of the defedants are the allegations and insinuations that he is a drug baron, whose accounts have been frozen by the court and that he is involved with or has committed a criminal act.
According to him, “Defendants’ publication made using claimant’s picture was calculated to injure claimant’s reputation, by exposing him to hatred, contempt, ridicule.’’
He added that the defendants’ action was aimed at tarnishing his hard-earned reputation, built over the years so as to drive internet traffic to their website and social media platforms, gain public relevance and do maximum incalculable damage to claimant’s reputation, businesses, vocation and standing in the society.
While stating that the defendants by their weighty publications cast grave aspersion on his honour, reputation and integrity, Chief Iyiebu submitted that following the publication many persons, businesses, friends, associates, acquaintances as well as community members have shunned him and his company.
The publication, he added, exposed him to hatred, contempt, ridicule and injury in his position, profession, endeavours and businesses.
The defendants, he further stated, ‘’have by their publications shown they are engaged in an intentional smear campaign through defamatory publications.”
He argued that in an increasingly networked world online publication that invariably pass through the hands of countless intermediaries who distribute, host and index the billions of web-pages, e-mails and social media posts that make up the internet, “the defendants will not desist from the continuing hosting and publication of the complained words unless they are restrained by the court.’’
Cubana therefore, prayed the court to make an order directing defendants, jointly and severally to pay him the sum of N1 billion as general damages for defamation of character, as well as damage to businesses, professional and financial credit.
He also prayed the court to make an order that interest in the above sum be calculated at the rate of 10 per cent from the date of judgment until the final liquidation of the judgment sum.
While he also prayed for an order directing the defendants to carry out a global take-down or removal of the alleged defamatory content against the claimant on the internet, social media, Facebook etc, he urged that defendants tender a public apology in three different national newspapers.