Court orders Linda Ikeji to pay N30million to Neo Black Movement over defamation

A high court in Effurun, Delta State, has ordered Linda Ikeji, a prominent Nigerian blogger, to pay N30,000,000 in general damages to the Neo Black Movement (NBM) of Africa for a defamatory article published on her blog in 2021.

The court’s ruling, delivered by Judge Roli Daibo-Harriman, came after Ikeji published an article on October 19, 2021, that allegedly referred to the NBM of Africa as a “dreaded cult group, black axe, and criminal organisation.” The publication led the NBM and three others to file a N1 billion lawsuit against Ikeji for defamation and libel.

The registered trustees of NBM of Africa, including Ese Kakor, Felix Kupa, and Mayor Onyebueke, were listed as claimants in the lawsuit. Along with the general damages, the court also ordered Ikeji to pay an additional N300,000 to cover the cost of litigation. Furthermore, she must publish a retraction of the libelous article on her blog and in national newspapers. The court also instructed Ikeji to refrain from any further damaging publications against the claimants and the NBM of Africa.

Linda Ikeji was not present in court for the ruling, nor was she represented by counsel.

Kelvin Agbroko, lead counsel to the claimants, praised the judgment, saying it was well-deserved and served as a warning to other bloggers about the importance of verifying information before publishing. He stated that the NBM of Africa is a legal organisation registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and the defamatory article had caused considerable harm.

Agbroko also noted that the claimants would take all necessary steps to enforce the terms of the judgment. “It was an erudite judgment that is all-encompassing and will be difficult to fault,” he said.

The president of NBM of Africa, Ese Kakor, expressed satisfaction with the judgment, stating that the case had been ongoing for about two years. He advised other bloggers to avoid defamation, noting that they could face similar litigation. “NBM has nothing to do with cultism, black axe. It is not a criminal organisation but a registered organisation,” he emphasized.