A civil rights activist and member of the Buhari Media Support Group, Ms. Lauretta Onochie, has dragged a blogger and US-based lawyer, Emeka Ugwuoye, to court over a libellous publication on Facebook, demanding N1bn.
The plaintiff, who is a volunteer in Buhari’s Support Organisation, also stated that she has suffered tremendous damage to her reputation, insisting that if the defendant was not restrained, he would further publish injurious articles against her.
Onochie in the suit filed by her counsel, Festus Keyamo, at the High Court in Abuja, and obtained by journalists on Sunday, also demanded a retraction and an unreserved apology from the defendant for the words he had used with her photograph.
According to the court papers, no fewer than 163 persons have ‘Liked’ the post, while over 80 people have ‘Shared’ it with 198 ‘Comments.”
Ugwuoye had in the post entitled: “A major break in tracking of the Dubai Madams and their agents – A key Madam revealed as a socialite with apparent connections to (sic) Nigerian politicians,” published on January 21 2016, in his Due Process Advocates Facebook page, alleged that Onochie, using names like Aunty Lolly, Madam or Aunty, operates an international girls trafficking ring across the United Arab Emirates, Italy and Greece for prostitution.
He had said, “Ms. Lauretta Onochie is clever as much as she could be cruel and mean-spirited. As part of her cleverness, she has associated herself with the Abuja politicians. She likes photo-up opportunities with the most powerful politicians, including Presidents and Vice Presidents…Seeing a picture of her and the President (Muhammadu Buhari) is enough to silence the agents of a victim of human trafficking.
“That is enough to silence any official likely to ask questions; that is enough to get any curious immigration official who intercepts her girls to let them go unstopped. That is enough to cause you and I to believe that she cannot kill an ant. Yet, she is a vicious trafficker of poor girls into international prostitution…Her support for President Buhari seems so honourable and something we would not expect from someone in the business of human trafficking.”
He also alleged that Onochie was fond of recruiting young girls, “promising them good life in Dubai and elsewhere, swearing their parents to shrines, selling them off for $5,000 to $15,000, making nude videos of them and using thugs to intimidate their parents back here in Nigeria,” and making sure that immigration officials were bribed at the airport to let the girls through despite being underage.
The plaintiff therefore asked the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, whether by himself, agents, privies or servants from further publishing or causing to be published any libellous, injurious or defamatory words against her.
In her statement of claims, the plaintiff who is a grandmother and a member of the All Progressives Congress, averred that the defendant falsely and maliciously described her as “an international human trafficker who belongs to a powerful network of criminal gangs and racketeers.”
While describing the allegations as false and untrue, she added that the defendant did not conduct any investigation before publishing them.