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Court orders EFCC to pay photographer N5m for defamation

Court orders EFCC to pay photographer N5m for defamation %Post Title

Justice John Okorowo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has awarded N5m damages against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for wrongfully parading a photographer, Nasiru Saidu-Ali, popularly known as Kozzo, as a fraudster.

The incident happened in May 2019 when the photographer was arrested from his Abuja home and his photos splashed on the social media pages of the EFCC alongside those of other alleged internet fraudsters.

He was later released after his innocence was established, but Sa’idu-Ali dragged the anti-graft agency to court for criminal defamation..

The photographer, through his lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, demanded N100m damages from the EFCC, but after five years, the court, in a judgment delivered on March 22, 2024, awarded a N5m damages against the EFCC and ordered the anti-graft agency to tender a public apology to the photographer.

Details of the court judgment was revealed in a Certified True Copy obtained by our correspondent on Thursday.

The CTC read in part, “An order of mandatory injunction is hereby granted, ordering the respondent, whether by themselves, their officers, servants or agents to forthwith remove the image and name holding out of the applicant as a fraudster to the public from the respondents’ Instagram and other social media platform.

“An order of mandatory injunction is hereby granted restraining the respondent, whether by themselves, their officers, servants, or agents from further holding out the applicant as a fraudster to the public without judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction.

“An order of this honourable court is hereby granted directing the respondent to pay the applicant the sum of N2.5m as exemplary and punitive damages for the unlawful publication of the applicant’s image on the respondent’s Instagram, amounting to a breach of his fundamental rights to privacy.

“An order of this honourable court is hereby granted directing the respondent to pay the applicant N2.5m as general damages for loss suffered herein, amounting to a breach of his fundamental rights.

“An order of this honourable court is hereby granted directing that the respondents tender public apology on their online social media platforms to the applicant.”

Meanwhile, following the judgment, the lawyer to the claimant, Pelumi Olajengbesi, reiterated that it was unlawful and amounted to an abuse of powers for the EFCC to have publicised the images of individuals arrested for alleged crimes when such persons have not been convicted by the court.

In an interview with our correspondent, the lawyer said his firm, Law Corridor, took up the photographer’s case pro bono, and after extensive legal proceedings before the Federal High Court, Abuja, justice was finally served.

Olajengbesi said, “Following numerous legal arguments and delays orchestrated by the EFCC, Justice John Okoro of Court 8 of the Federal High Court, Abuja delivered the landmark judgment on Friday, March 22, 2024.

“The court deemed the EFCC’s actions unconstitutional, as they violated Ali’s right to human dignity, encroached upon his privacy, and disregarded the noble and fundamental principle of presumption of innocence to have posted his picture on their social media.

“We’re happy that the court awarded ₦5million in exemplary, punitive, and general damages against the EFCC. As you can see from the CTC, the EFCC was also ordered to publicly apologise to the young photographer.

“Even though we asked for N100m, the court awarded N5m and also granted a perpetual order against the EFCC from arresting the photographer again.”

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