West African traditional monarch takes defamation case against Irish-based blogger

Traditional ruler and spiritual leader of the Yoruba people

The court was told the contents of the social media posts about Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi were highly defamatory, untrue, and very damaging.

The court was told the contents of the social media posts about Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi were highly defamatory, untrue, and very damaging.

 

A West African traditional monarch claims he has been defamed in a series of social media posts by an Irish-based blogger, the High Court has heard.

Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, known as Ojaja II, who is the traditional ruler and spiritual leader of the Yoruba people, claims he has been defamed by Esther Esabod Aboderin in video clips and other posts that have appeared on Facebook and YouTube.

He claims he has been wrongly and maliciously accused in the posts of committing serious criminal offences by the defendant, including being involved in land grabs, silencing journalists critical of him, human trafficking, racketeering, money laundering, and having people killed.

None of the accusations are true, he states.

The defendant, Ms Esabod Aboderin with an address in Leixlip, Co Kildare and originally from Nigeria, told the court her blog has thirty million followers. She denied the comments are defamatory.

As a result of the posts, Mr Ogunwusi (45), represented by Thomas Hogan SC, sought various orders against Ms Aboderin under the 2009 Defamation Act.

The orders include injunctions requiring her to take down the allegedly defamatory posts and that she, or anyone else with knowledge of the order, cease posting any more defamatory material about him.

When the matter came before Mr Justice Anthony Barr the defendant, who represented herself, consented to injunctions which will remain in place pending the full hearing of the action being made against her.

She also agreed to remove the allegedly defamatory material from her Facebook account.

The material placed on YouTube had been posted by others, she said. She told the judge she would take steps, including asking her followers, to take down the posts at issue.

Mr Hogan said his client, who is a trained chartered accountant who has worked in real estate, was selected in 2015 to be the traditional monarch and spiritual leader of the Yoruba, an ethnic group of forty four million people who mainly live in Nigeria and Benin.

Counsel said his client first became aware of the defendant’s posts in late May. The contents of the posts were highly defamatory, untrue, and very damaging for his client, counsel said.

Social media firms

The posts have had tens of thousands of views and were subject of thousands of comments. His client did not know why she posted this material, and has asked the social media firms to take down the posts.

Counsel said his client does not know the defendant, but believes he briefly met her on one occasion during an official function in the UK.

When the defendant was contacted by solicitors for his client asking her to remove the material, she refused to do that and had made further comments about lawyers becoming involved.

Counsel said, in separate proceedings last year, he and his solicitor had represented a Nigerian businesswoman Rosala Uvbi Mku-Atu, who also brought defamation proceedings against the defendant over comments posted on social media.

In reply, the defendant said that much of what she said about the plaintiff had been posted on the internet, and could be found through a Google search.

She said she had made the posts after being contacted by various people in Nigeria.

She said she was a blogger and “a herbal doctor” and has written about corruption in Nigeria but was prepared to remove the posts until the action has been decided.

She agreed with the judge her defence to the defamation claims would be one of justification.

She also agreed with Mr Hogan she had been before the courts last year in relation to claims she had defamed Ms Uvbi Mku-Atu.

Those posts, she said, have been taken down.

On one occasion when that matter was before the courts, she said she was assaulted in the precincts of the Four Courts and that incident received a lot of media attention.

Because of that incident and other matters, she fears for her safety and would not go back to Nigeria for fear of being killed, she said. She had also taken a number of steps to increase the level of security around her home.