Mr. Unazi Gideon, a social critic, and Eza Patrick, an anti-corruption crusader have dragged Mr. James Oche, Chairman, Ado Local Government Area of Benue and Facebook International Services Nigeria Limited for alleged defamation of character.
Gideon and Patrick, in a suit marked: FCT/HC/CV/2812/2022 and filed at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, demanded N500 million in damages.
Oche and Facebook were sued as 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.
In the application dated and filed Aug. 25 by their lawyer, F.S. Jimba, the claimants are praying the court for “a declaration that the publication originated by the 1st defendant and published by the 2nd defendant on the 23rd August 2022 titled ‘PATRICK EZA and GIDEON UNAZI WANTED OVER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION IN ADO’ is defamatory of the claimants.”
They, therefore, prayed the court for an order of injunction perpetually restraining the defendants whether by themselves or through their agents or privies howsoever described, from further publishing any defamatory information concerning them
In the statement of claims, the claimants told the court that “on Aug. 23, the 1st defendant used the platform of the 2nd defendant known as Facebook and published a highly defamatory material about them.”
Oche was alleged to have, through the Facebook, said: “The Benue State Command of the Nigerian Police Force today paraded 18 suspected kidnappers arrested in Ado Local Government.
“In connection with this, the attention of the public is drawn to the fact that PATRICK EZA and GIDEON UNAZI are hereby declared wanted by Ado Local Government to volunteer useful information to aid police investigation in this matter.
“Anybody in contact with them should advise them to immediately turn themselves Into the Ado Divisional Police Station Igumalo.
“Similarly, those with useful information on their whereabouts should kindly inform the DPO Ado LG.”
But the claimants, in the affidavit in support of the writ of summon, said that they were both in Abuja on Aug. 23 going about their legitimate business when they became aware of the defamatory publication.
They also averred that as at the time the publication was made, neither of them was invited by the police in connection with the allegation of kidnapping.
They said that the act had portrayed them as kidnappers or persons involved in kidnapping or persons who are members of a kidnapping gang.
The claimants, who described themselves as law-abiding citizens who earn their Income from their legitimate work, said they had never involved in any case of kidnapping or any other crime before.
The matter was yet to be assigned to a judge as at the time of the report.