OLEE ALASHEJU: Court awards N500 million damages against blogger for defaming church, founder.

"I cannot imagine a worse case of reckless defamation or evil use of the internet and social media," the judge said.

An Ogun State High Court has ordered a UK-based blogger, Maureen Badejo, to pay ₦500 million to the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM) and its General Overseer, Daniel Olukoya, for defamation.

Abiodun Akinyemi, while delivering the judgment, also ordered Ms Badejo, the proprietor of Gio TV, to pull down and erase the offending online publications concerning the claimants from the internet.

The judge further ordered the blogger to tender a written apology and retraction of the offending publications prominently on social media and at least three national dailies.

“Watching and listening to the broadcasts when demonstrated in open court, I was taken aback at the reckless and defiant attitude of the defendant,” said the judge.

“What was more, it was a phone-in programme in which the defendant even granted audience to the public to make contributions on the information provided by her concerning the claimants.

“I cannot imagine a worse case of reckless defamation or evil use of the internet and social media. Considering the totality of the circumstances of this case, and in particular the conduct of the defendant, I am of the view that the claimants deserve to be substantially compensated in aggravated and exemplary damages.”

The suit

The claimants had filed a suit before the court on September 7, 2020, seeking ₦10 billion compensation for aggravated and exemplary damages.

The judgment was delivered on February 9, but PREMIUM TIMES obtained a certified true copy of the document on Friday.

Ms Badejo was, last year, accused of using her social media channels to blackmail Mr Olukoya and his church on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.