Sunday, 3 July 2016

N5m Defamation Suit: I Won’t Apologise or Pay Fine to Tony Okoroji, Says Onyeka Onwenu

Popular singer and immediate past Director General of the National Center for Women Development, Ms. Onyeka Onwenu, has reacted to the judgment delivered against her by a judge of the Ikeja High Court, Justice I. O. Akinkugbe, in a suit instituted against her by Chief Tony Okoroji for defamation of character.

Justice Akinkugbe ordered Onyeka to pay Okoroji the sum of N5m and tender a public apology. But in an exclusive chat with Sunday Scoop, the Elegant Stallion, as Onyeka is called, said the judgment was not fair and that she would appeal.

She said, “The judgment given by Justice Akinkugbe is most unfair and cannot stand.  Throughout the trial, the plaintiff’s lawyer kept referring to the fact that I was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party and my appointment to office as Director General of the PDP but that I was serving under an APC Government.

“My lawyer raised an objection as we did not think that my party affiliations had anything to do with the case at hand. But the judge to our consternation allowed that line of questioning. I am waiting to receive a copy of the judgment, at which point I will have more to say. For now, I am certain that this judgment cannot and will not hold based on the fact that we were able dismiss the allegations convincingly and unequivocally. We are appealing the judgement, of course.”

Speaking further, Onyeka said she would not apologise as ordered by the court.

“I will not apologise and I will not pay any fine. I am guilty of nothing. We have a country where one is allowed to pursue justice and, by God’s grace, justice will be served. If not by Justice Akinkugbe, then certainly by an Appeal Court or even the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”

In response Okoroji saying he held her in high esteem, Onyeka accused  him of saying a lot of things he did not mean.

“Mr. Tony Okoroji says a lot of things but he does not mean them. I shall provide a full rebuttal of the campaign of calumny that he is putting out against me in the aftermath of this judgment and more shall be revealed.  I hold no personal grudge against him, my quarrels with him have always been on issues of probity and fair play.

“I have been very much there for Okoroji for so long and in many more ways than I care to remember. I respect his intellect and I’ve said so on many fora, but I will not stand by and watch him attempt to destroy the very reputation that he has found and made use of personally and officially in the past. Some of us left the Performing Musicians Employers’ Association of Nigeria for him to run aground, in order to avoid his trouble. He is hoping we will do the same with regard to the Copyright Society of Nigeria. That wish will not be granted.”

In a telephone conversation with Sunday Scoop, Okoroji said he would meet Onyeka at the Court of Appeal if she chose that path, though he did not rule out the option of settling out of court.

“It is her constitutional right to do whatever she feels, we will meet her there,” he said.

He refuted Onyeka’s claim that she had won an earlier case against him. He politely declined further talks because he was at a function.

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