African king takes High Court action against Kildare-based blogger

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African king takes High Court action against Kildare-based blogger

The Four Courts, Dublin

A West African king 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, claim that he has been defamed  in video clips and other posts, that have appeared on Facebook and YouTube, by Esther Esabod Aboderin.

He claims that in the posts he has been wrongly, and maliciously accused of committing serious criminal offences by the defendant, including being involved in land grabs to silencing journalists that are critical of him, human trafficking, racketeering, money laundering, and having people killed. None of the accusations are true, he claims.

The defendant, with an address in Leixlip in Co Kildare but originally from Nigeria, who told the court her blog has 30 million followers, denies the comments are defamatory.

As a result of the posts, the Nigeria-based 45-year-old king, represented in court by Thomas Hogan SC, sought various orders against Ms Esabod 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 in the proceedings, consented to injunctions that are to 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 place on YouTube, she said, had been posted by others. She told the judge that she would take steps, including asking her followers, to take down the posts. 

Mr Hogan told the court that 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 44m people  who mainly live in Nigeria and Benin. 

Counsel said that his client first became aware of the defendant's posts in late May. The contests of her posts were highly defamatory, untrue, and very damaging, counsel said.

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

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

Counsel said that when the defendant was contacted by the king's solicitors, asking her to remove the material, she had refused to do this, and had made further comments about lawyers becoming involved. 

Counsel that 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 that were posted on social media.

In reply, the defendant said that much of what she said about the king has been posted on the internet, and could be found through a Google search. She said that she had made the posts after being contacted by various people in Nigeria.

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

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

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

Those posts, she said, have been taken down.

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

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