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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Why Court Remands In Prison Online News Publisher Charged With Defamation

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday remanded in Ikoyi Prisons, the publisher of a news website, Naijahottestgist.com, charged with publishing a defamatory story against Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, the Managing Director of Fidelity bank PLC.
The accused, Seun Oloketuyi, 39, was arraigned before Justice Mohammed Yunusa, by the police in Lagos, on a two-count charge bordering on defamation.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges after they were read out to him.
Delivering ruling on an “oral application“ for the bail of the accused by Mr A.A Adetunji, his counsel, Justice Yunusa refused the oral application and remanded him in Ikoyi prison, pending the hearing of a formal bail application.www.naijahottesgist.com has gone down and sources confirmed that Mr Seun Oloketuyi might never use this again as the authorities have taken control of the website. According to City News.ng, another online medium. In what appears to be resuscitation move, a similar website to maintain his presence online has been formed at http://www.hottestgistinnaija.com/ in which moderate copied stories are being updated as of mid-day of Tuesday, 25th August, 2015.

Currently this site, Naijahottesgist is down and could be transferred to the Lagos office of the Department of State Security (DSS).

According to a  various sources who want to remain anonymous , these false stories have reportedly led to friction and tension in the homes of the MD’s, customers, shareholders and stakeholder trust in this brands are reducing due to the negative impact the false stories have on this brands and their MD’s.

The last of Oleketuyi’s false stories was likely to be on Fidelity Bank Managing Director, Mr Nmandi Okonkwo.The source said used the same line of story used in the past on brands like Union bank, Access bank and Unity bank.
Okonkwo (left), Oloketuyi (right)
“But unfortunately for him his cup is full and the collation of the affected banks MD have put their foot down. We will not run from him and give adverts like he expects us to. We can’t continue like this. The negative impact of the stories on our homes, reputation, investors and stakeholder trusts cannot over emphasized. Trust makes almost 85% of our assets. Intangible assets like trust cannot be impacted and we sit and look, we are loosing 85% of our business by doing so”, a  source said.

While the Banks CEOs are not revealing their full plan yet, there are deep concerns that this time Seun Oloketuyi might end up in jail as plans might be in place to make sure he does not even escape abroad.

Popularity.net reported that one of the Managing Directors has said an apology will not repair the damage done at all stressing that the situation has gone out of hand.

“We support online journalists in our best possible way and we all run open and transparent corporate organizations, we are open to journalist reporting our stories but objectively not maliciously. Using blackmail to get ads and patronage from us so to remove negative stories from us will no longer happen. While we all don’t claim that our organizations are perfect, we treat feedback from customers and stakeholders with urgency and use those feedbacks to improve our services, products, brand and others”, a source quoted the Managing Director.

Meanwhile, the bank CEOs have promise to strengthen online publishing in Nigeria as they are currently working on training, sponsorships and various partnership for Nigerian digital journalists. An international acclaimed journalist, and leading online editors in the world has been contacted to help in training.

Mr Oloketuyi could not be reached as all calls made to his telephone line was unreachable.

Earlier, the Prosecutor, Mr Olakanmi Omisope, told the court that sometime in June, in Lagos, the accused, knowingly and intentionally, published the alleged false and defamatory story on the internet in www.naijahottestgist.com, to annoy and insult Okonkwo.
According to him, the offences contravene Section 24 (1) (b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention) Act, 2015, and Section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation.
The Street Journal reports that Section 24 (1) of the Cybercrime Act provides that “any person who intentionally or knowingly sends a message which is grossly offensive or obscene and found to be false, by means of computer network, is liable on conviction to a fine of N7, 000 or three years imprisonment or both.”
However, while the prosecutor urged the court to remand the accused in prison custody pending trial, his counsel asked the court to allow him make an oral application for bail of his client, which was refused by the trial judge.
The judge adjourned the case to September 1, for hearing of the “formal“ application for bail of the accused.

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