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Court dismisses ex-worker’s defamation suit against employer

A High Court in Abuja has dismissed a defamation suit filed by former employee of Eunisell Limited, Mr. Kenneth Amadi against his erstwhile boss, Mr Chika Ikenga.

Amadi filed the action alongside his two firms, ABD Energy Solutions Limited and Idid Nigeria Limited while the respondents beside Ikenga are Suraj B. Yakubu and Eunisell Limited.

The applicants had accused the respondents of defaming their character by writing a petition to the Deputy Inspector General of police, Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID) alleging that the applicants stole N2.9billion from his firm.

The respondent said the 1st claimant along with his wife and 3rd claimant conspired, obtained money by false pretences, forged, cheated, breach his trust criminally and stole the 1st and 3rd defendants monies.

Dissatisfied with the petition, the accused persons filed an action against the respondents at the high court of the FCT, claiming damages for defamation of character.

But Justice Jude O. Okeke in his judgment held that the petition was written as a privileged occasion by the respondents and awarded N100,000 cost against the applicants.

His words: “The Court having found that the petition was written on a privileged occasion and the defendants having raided same as a defence (with particulars set out in paragraphs 10 to 26 of their statement of defence), by the provision of order 15 Rule 17(2) of the rules of court, 2018, the claimants came under a duty to file and serve a reply disclosing facts and particulars of malice against the defendants where they intend to contend that the defendants were actuated by malice.

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“Although, the claimants in their final written address contended that their case is partly predicated on malice on the one hand and the defendants unwarranted, unsubstantiated action which destroyed their credibility and business on the other hand, it is observed that they did file a reply. “The defendants did contend that the reply runs short of the requirement of order 15 rule 17(2) of the rule of court in that it does not contain the facts and particular of the malice which would serve to rob them of the defence of privilege as canvassed.”

In his final judgment, Justice Okeke said that the offensive words which constitute the defamation in either the petition or the other publications were set out in the pleadings as mandatorily required by law.

“For this reason alone, none of the publications has been made out. The libel or the publications having not been made out the other reliefs predicated on the defamation by way of general and special damages as claimed have no basis to stand. They cannot be granted as one cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand, it surely must fall to the ground. It is for this reason that all the other reliefs or facet of the claimants’ case cannot be sustained. They are dismissed,” the judge declared.

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