Oyo State High Court, sitting in Ibadan, has adjourned the N200 billion libel suit filed by the Awujale and Paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, against Yinka Ayefele Limited, owner of Internet Fresh FM 105.9 Radio Station to sine die.
The monarch, in his statement of claim, had sought N200b damages for libel. The libel, he said, is contained in the radio programme titled, “Talk Your Own with Chikito Duru” 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 till September 4, 2020 vide Internet website with address www.facebook.comfreshfmibadan on behalf of the defendant.
The monarch also sought 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 concerning the claimant.
Aiyefele Limited is the sole defendant in the suit marked I/972/2020 filed by the Awujale through his counsel, O. Ayanlaja (SAN).
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 paramount ruler of Ijebuland.
He 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.
The defendant’s counsel, Chief Yomi Alliyu (SAN), filed a statement of defence on March 12, 2021, putting up the defence of 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 a 15 paragraph of the said defence, the defendant apologised to the claimant stating 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, it is no longer in a position to repeat the words complained of and/or similar words in future.”
He maintained that his client has no reason to ridicule the claimant and/or expose him to public odium or lower Kabiyesi’s reputation by the right thinking members of the society and has no malice, real and/or technical, against the claimant, who is held in high esteem by members of the society, including all members of staff and management of the defendant.
He said the actions of the staff and management of the defendant were to inform Ijebu sons and daughters interested in the development of their land to approach the claimant to remove any curse, if any, leading to the departure in droves by companies hitherto operating in their land and the defendant received favourable response from Ijebu listeners of the programme.”
When the matter came up, the defendant filed four processes before the Court, which are application to join the presenter and the guest as 3rd 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 claimant’s counsel consented to all except the application for stay of proceedings. However, the trial judge, Olusola Adetujoye, did not allow the three motions consented to by the claimant to be moved. The case was adjourned since die (till further notice) when counsel could not agree on a date.