An Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan has adjourned till further notice, a N200 billion libel suit filed by the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona against Yinka Ayefele Limited, owner of Fresh FM 105.9
Recall oyoaffairs.net had reported in July, how a staff of the Tungba musician had allegedly slandered the first class Ijebu monarch in a live programme title — “Talk Your Own With Chikito Duru”.
Meanwhile Justice Olusola Adetujoye, who presided over the case has adjourned sine die as both parties could not agree on a date.
In an 11-paragraph statement of claim, Oba Adetona is seeking N200 billion as compensation for damages for an alleged libel contained in a radio programme titled, “Talk Your Own with Chikito Duru”, written and published by the defendant on Fresh FM 105.9 Ibadan on December 22, 2019.
It was said to be have been simultaneously transmitted and stored in its news server from December 22, 2019 daily till September 4, 2020, via internet website, 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 Ayefele 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 Awujale insisted that Yinka Ayefele Limited was aware that the said words were defamatory and are untrue, since it was alleged to have occurred in 1984.
He alleged that Yinka Ayefele Limited was reckless in failing 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 Awujale 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.
“[This they did] 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 statement added.
The Awujale 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 Yinka Ayefele Limited for an apology, the retraction of the libelous publication and that same be completely removed from the internet radio server programme of the defendant and payment of damages.
The Awujale averred 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.
The traditional ruler averred that Yinka Ayefele Limited thereafter, on September 4, 2020, removed the internet radio publication from its server after trending for over eight months.
The Awujale 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.
However, Counsel to Yinka Ayefele Limited, Chief Yomi Alliyu SAN, in their filed Statement of Defence on 12 March, 2021, argued for qualified privilege, stating that it was a live programme with the name of the presenter stated as “Talk Your Own With Chikito Duru,” thereby making the station innocent disseminator of the alleged libel.
In Paragraph 15 of the said defence, the defendant had apologised to the Awujale stating therefore that, “The defendant, having brought down the programme complained against by the claimant from the Facebook and, having apologised profusely in the same mode of broadcast and on record in this court, is no longer in a position to repeat the words complained of and/or similar words in future.
“The matter came up on 14 July, 2022, with A. Adesanya SAN, A. Adetola and M. A. Atanda for the claimant and Chief Yomi Alliyu SAN, Dipo Olasope SAN with Thelma Otaigbe-Oluleye and Adeyemi Omoniyi for the defendant.
Meanwhile, Yinka Ayefele Limited had filed four processes before the court which are application to join the presenter and the guest as third parties; Notice of Appeal on the previous ruling of the court on preliminary objection that the case does not disclose any cause of action known to law; thirdly, leave to appeal and finally motion for stay of proceedings.
The Awujale’s counsel consented to all except the application for stay of proceedings, just as the court did not allow the three motions consented to by the claimant, to be moved.