Sept 1, 2015/Fidelity Bank Plc
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday granted bail to a blogger, Seun Oloketuyi, who is being prosecuted by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigerian Police over alleged malicious publication against the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo.
Oleketuyi was, at the last adjourned date, ordered to be remanded in prison by Justice Mohammed Yunusa after he was arraigned on a two-count charge.
Oloketuyi, who is the organizer of the annual Best of Nollywood Awards, was said to have published a news report on his blogg where he alleged that Okonkwo had a love relationship with a married lady in the marketing department of the bank.
In the report, Oloketuyi had further alleged that the extra-marital affair between Okonkwo and the said lady simply identified as Justina, resulted in the birth of a baby, and that the affair also destroyed the marriage of the said Justina.
He had further alleged that Okonkwo had since sent the affected lady abroad to further her studies.
Okonkwo had petitioned the police, and after investigation, Oloketuyi was charged to court.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, Oloketuyi’s lawyer, Muiz Banire argued the bail application of his client, and stressed that the police was yet to file the proof of evidence, and that the list of witnesses in the trial was not filed.
He said the charge against Oloketuyi was tantamount to someone just waking up and unleashing a sheet of paper on the court, adding that the charge was properly not filed in the first place.
While arguing that the offence for which Oloketuyi was charged was a bailable one, Banire said: “My client is an entrepreneur and a journalist. This is civil case. If you feel that you have been libeled, the proper thing would have been to institute a legal action.
“The accused was already harassed and wounded by the Department of State Security (DSS) before he was charged to court by the SFU. There is nothing like fraud in the charge.
Everyday, people write anything they like on the internet against the president and he has not because of that asked that anyone should be wounded. I passionately urge the court to grant him bail,” Banire submitted.
Responding, the prosecutor, Olakanmi Omisope vehemently urged the court to refuse the bail, and argued that the court should rather give expeditious trial.
He added: “We are also investigating the accused person for similar crime against others. He is a serial blackmailer and I urge the court to refuse the bail application.”
But in response, Banire urged the court to strike out Omisope’s allegation against his client, saying it was an extraneous matter that offended the provisions of the Evidence Act.
In a bench ruling, Justice Yunusa said he was satisfied to grant bail to the accused, and admitted him to bail in the sum of N3 million with two sureties in like sum.
One of the sureties must be a blood relation of the accused and must have evidence of landed property in Lagos.
The court ordered the prosecutor to verify the documents of the landed property, and that the sureties must sign affidavit of means. The accused must also sign undertaking to attend trial.
The matter was adjourned to November 4, 2015 for trial.
In count one, Oloketuyi was accused of intentionally sending message and other matters by means of computer system or network against Okonkwo, which he knew to be false, for the purpose of causing him annoyance, insult and ill-will.
The offence was said to be contrary to and punishable under Section 24 (1) (b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention Etc) Act, 2015.
In count two, Oloketuyi was accused of knowingly publishing defamatory matters on Okonkwo, which he knew to be false, contrary to and punishable under Section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation.