A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja on Thursday ordered singer, actress and politician, Onyeka Onwenu, to pay the sum of N5 million as damages for defamation of character to Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Tony Okoroji.
Delivering judgment in Suit No: ID/935/12 filed in 2012, Hon Justice I. O. Akinkugbe (Mrs.) also ordered Ms. Onwenu to tender an unreserved public apology to Okoroji to be published by Vanguard online and in print.
The former Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) President dragged Onyeka to court following her declaration that his election as COSON chairman in 2012 was manipulated.
Reacting to the judgment, a jubilant Okoroji who was in court said, â€Once again, as has happened several times before, the courts have come to my rescue proving that despite what may be said to the contrary, you can obtain justice in Nigeria.
This has taken close to four years of going in and out of court but at the end of the day, I must thank Honourable Justice Akinkugbewho the Almighty has again used to do justice for her professionalism. I must also thank my lawyer, Mr. Justin Ige for his commitment and thoroughness.
â€œI have committed much of my life to fighting for the welfare of every musician in Nigeria and protecting the interest of all including Ms. Onyeka Onwenu. In the battle, I have spared myself no inconvenience or discomfort and countless times, I have had to risk my life, my reputation and the welfare of my family.
Working with my colleagues at COSON, we have made available to musicians across Nigeria hundreds of millions of Naira as we set out with the building of the most professional, transparent and accountable organization in the history of the creative industries in Nigeria, something that was considered impossible just a few years ago.
â€œI wish I never had to take Ms. Onwenu to court. I consider every Nigerian musician including Onyeka member of my extended family. Onyeka however left me with little choice. I went to court in self defence.
Till today, I do not know what wrong I did to Onyeka Onwenu. As someone I considered a close colleague and friend, I was shocked at the level of hatred she had generated within herself to justify her all-consuming campaign of lies without foundation to destroy the one thing she knows that I cherish most; my integrity.â€
Reacting to the judgment, ace broadcaster and well known friend of Okoroji, Mr. Patrick Doyle, said â€œSome will recall that I publicly cautioned Onyeka Onwenu when she began her ill-advised war of attrition against Chief Tony Okoroji.
â€œI told her that she was taking on the wrong guy. She refused to listen. Now, the chickens have come home to roost and she has to pay for her attempt to destroy a good man.â€
Okoroji has another case against Onyeka, who President Muhammadu Buhari sacked as Director-General, of the National Centre for Women Development on February 15, 2016.
It is an appeal against the ruling of a Lagos State High Court which threw out the N750million libel suit he instituted after the â€œElegant Stallionâ€ accused him of misappropriating N3million donated by the Cross River State Government for the burial of another ex-PMAN President, Christy Essien-Igbokwe, in 2011.