Posted by News Express | 11 June 2020 | 1,924 times
Hon Justice A. A. Oyebanji of the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja, today, Thursday, June 11, 2020, restrained President of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Mr. Pretty Okafor, from further defamation of the character of Chief Tony Okoroji.
Delivering judgment in a libel action filed on May 22, 2018 by Okoroji, Justice Oyebanji also ordered Okafor to pay the litigant the sum of N2 million as general damages for defamation of character.
Said Justice Oyebanji: “Every person has a right to the protection of his good name.”
During the trial, Okoroji called seven witnesses and tendered 18 exhibits. Okafor, on the other hand, did not call any witness or tender any exhibit.
There was celebration and jubilation outside the courtroom by Okoroji, who was in court with his lawyer, Mr. James Ononiwu of Whitedove Solicitors. There was also dancing at the magnificent COSON House in Ikeja.
At COSON House, Okoroji raised his fist in the air and then said: “This victory is sweet. I barely know Pretty Okafor. I also do not know his wife. I have never taken anything that belongs to him. I do no business with him. I do not owe him any money. I have never touched him or cursed him. I have never visited him whether at home or at work. But day-in, day-out, Pretty Okafor has fabricated and spread lies about me. Month after month, Pretty Okafor vomited atrocious falsehood on the internet and on TV to decimate my good name and destroy my reputation. Even when I went to court against him, he did not stop. He did not caution himself. At some point, it appeared like destroying Tony Okoroji’s name and legacy had become an obsession with him. It became Pretty Okafor’s fulltime job. Not once did I ever respond to him, hoping that he would understand the saying, ‘Silence is the best answer for a fool’.
“What exactly did I do wrong? My fault is that I have dedicated myself to building enduring institutions to protect and promote the rights of the thousands who work in the Nigerian music industry. Since the magnificent COSON House, the first real property owned by the Nigerian creative industry, was commissioned in Ikeja in 2017, all kinds of charlatans within the music industry have gone mad. They want to hijack COSON which we built for the good of the thousands in the music industry and turn it into their personal ATM and destroy it the same way they destroyed PMAN which I also helped to build.
“The tragic thing is that Pretty Okafor is not even a member of COSON. Morning and night, Pretty Okafor does not even talk about PMAN which he claims to be President of. All he talks about on the Internet without any self-control is COSON, COSON and more COSON; Okoroji, Okoroji and more Okoroji. Pretty Okafor became the Minister of Disinformation of the ‘Destroy Okoroji Movement’, spewing hatred everywhere with complete abandon. He probably thought that judgment day would never come.
“Judgment day is here. Justice Oyebanji has spoken and the rule of law has finally caught up with Pretty Okafor. O my God, this victory is sweet. I wish to thank the Almighty who has been there for me as greedy men ganged up with unprecedented falsehood and multiple defamation to destroy me. I wish to thank Justice Oyebanji and other judges like her who strive everyday to do justice. I wish to thank the thousands of members of COSON across the country who despite the onslaught on me have continued to show confidence in me and have prayed for me. I wish to thank members of my family who silently bore the pain as a man I barely know tore at my reputation and family name with so much wickedness and malice. I also wish to thank Barrister James Ononiwu of Whitedove Solicitors for not just being a great lawyer but for becoming a friend indeed.
“On December 19, 2017, with tears in my eyes, I promised the members of COSON that I will fight with everything I have to make sure that nobody or group hijacks COSON, the great pan Nigerian organization we have built for the protection and promotion of all involved in music in Nigeria. That promise is a covenant and I thank the Almighty for giving me the grace to keep faith with the covenant.
“Yes, I am the man who drives on a full tank of faith. Please celebrate with me because this victory is sweet, so sweet!”
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