Businessman Slams N5bn Suit Against FIJ, Arise Media Group Over Undercover Story

Businessman Alhaji Ibrahim Egungbohun has filed a lawsuit against the founder Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) Fisayo Soyombo, the outlet and Arise Media Group, seeking N5 billion in damages over alleged defamation.

Represented by his counsel Bola Aidi, SAN, Egungbohun also requests a N10 million cost for filing the lawsuit.

The case, filed at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court under the writ of summons marked FCT/CV/2286/2024 on May 3, lists Soyombo, FIJ, and Arise Media Group as the 1st to 3rd defendants, respectively.

Egungbohun, a licensed Nigerian Customs agent, serves as the Chief Executive Officer of IBD Impex Ltd, a company engaged in various sectors including clearing and forwarding, construction, agriculture, real estate, and oil and gas.

In the suit, he sought “a declaration that the 1st and 2nd defendants have defamed the claimant through the various libellous posts and innuendos made by the 1st and 2nd defendants on their X handles @fisayosoyombo and @fijnigeria.

“A declaration that the 1st and 2nd defendants have defamed the claimant through the libelous publications made by the 1st and 2nd defendants on the 2nd defendant’s blog fij.ng in the article titled ‘Undercover as a Smuggler’ published on 21st February 2024.

“A declaration that the claimant has been defamed by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants through the libelous publication/broadcasting made by the defendants on the 3rd defendant’s television programme ‘THE MORNING SHOW’ broadcasted on 24th February, 2024.

“An order of this court for retraction of the libelous statements and tendering of a public apology by each of the defendants to the claimant, to be published by the 1st and 2nd defendants on their X handles; @fisayosoyombo and @fijnigeria and on the 2nd defendant’s blog fij.ng, and to be published/broadcasted by all the defendants in the 3rd defendant’s television programme ‘THE MORNING SHOW.’

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“An order of this court restraining the defendants from any further defamatory publications (including the use of innuendos) against the claimant on their X handles, website, TV programmes or any other means of publication.

“The sum of N5,000,000,000.00 (Five Billion Naira) as general damages. The sum of N10,000,000, 000.00 (Ten Million Naira) being the cost of instituting this Suit.”

In his statement of claim attached to the suit, Egungbohun, who hails from Ogun State, said he is a socialite and the owner of IBD International Hotel in Ogun.

According to him, his hard work, integrity, dedication and tenacity have given him business goodwill among well-meaning Nigerians and have enabled him to establish business and personal relationships with top Nigerian businessmen and politicians.

He averred that sometime in February 2024, Soyombo began a calumny of defamation against him through his X handle page; @fisayosoyombo.

He alleged that on February 21, Soyombo posted and shared on his X-handle page a defamatory article titled: “Undercover as a Smuggler” and published on the FIJ’s blog wherein he was tagged a smuggler.

The claimant further alleged that the said article had a subcaption: “Popular Socialite Arrested For Gun Running, Ibrahim IBD Dende Regains Freedom.”

The report alleged that “The status of the founder of the hotel, Ibrahim Dende Egungbohun, more commonly known as IBD Dende’, as ILARO’S BIGGEST SMUGGLER, has been helped by his proximity to power, coupled with the influence he has amassed with his wealth.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that Egungbohun averred that the defamatory and character assassinating posts made against him by the defendants are permanent in nature, meaning that the claimant’s good name and reputation had been smeared for life by the libelous posts of the defendants.

He said he would rely on all electronic generated evidence mentioned in his statement of claim and would rely on and tender a Certificate of Compliance in line with the provision of the Evidence Act during trial.

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