Legal Drama

LIBEL: Nollywood Actress Nuella WARNS Gossip Columnist Stella Dimoko Korkus Against Publishing FALSE Stories About Her

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Stella Dimoko Korkus LIBEL Against Actress NuellaWe begin the week with a case of Libel. Bloggers, journalists, you could be held liable for statements published that are false. While the law protects great latitude, certainly in the USA, with freedom of the press, none of these laws are absolute. In fact, the basic structure of legal principles is that you have a general rule and then thousands of exceptions to the general rule that threaten to swallow the general rule in the first place.

In the case of Actress Nuella v. Gossip Columnist and Journalist Stella Dimoko Korkus, we are dealing with alleged LIBEL by Dimoko Korkus. Read the press releases from both camps and then see my republished discussion on the law of libel in Nigeria at the bottom of the releases.

Actress Nuella Warns Stella Against False StoriesThe Press Release from Actress Nuella:

Few days ago a report surfaced online that our client, Nuella Njubigbo is in a sizzling romance with a South-South governor, who bought her the 2012 Toyota Highlander SUV that was recently reported.

We would have ignored this but seeing that it came from the same writer who had ’supposedly broken’ the news of Nuella’s ‘romantic dalliances’ with two other men in the last eight months; hence we chose otherwise. Click to continue reading.

Firstly, our client has never met with the said governor. How can you travel with and ‘romance’ someone you have never met? This kind of magic can only happen in the writer’s concoctions of lies.

The writer also claimed Nuella couldn’t have been able to buy the car in many years even if she saves rigorously. This is really laughable. It is a known fact that Nuella is one of the busiest actors in Asaba and Enugu, the nerve-centers of present-day Nollywood. For someone whose fee is over N500 000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira)per movie, how impossible is it for her to buy the N8 million car the writer erroneously quoted?

And isn’t it ridiculous that we naturally come to the conclusion that men must always be behind the good fortune of every successful women in this part of the world? Women are not dummies; they have what it takes to succeed without warming the bed of any man or politician for that matter. Women at the top did not achieve prominence by crooked means. Hardwork pays. Simple!

It was this same writer who reported Nuella was pregnant recently. After realising the absurdity of her lie, she claimed it was a ’brief pregnancy’. Whatever that meant, she alone can explain.

She also claimed that Nuella rented an apartment in Enugu to live with a certain movie director. Several months after, she has not been able to prove her story as Nuella still lives in Lagos.

Recently,she wrote that Nuella was in a hot romance with a Nigerian professional footballer based in Russia. Now, it is a South-South governor and all these happened within the space of eight months.

The writer should be bold enough to say publicly what axe she has to grind with Nuella rather than hide behind the noble profession of journalism to execute her cheap hatchet job. An open declaration of her true intentions will probably confer on her some measure of respect which she desperately needs to salvage her dwindling career fortunes. Journalism is not for rumour mongers. We know it is her stock in trade to blackmail rising stars and ‘A-listers’ who are mostly her friends until they come and pay ‘homage’. We won’t be blackmailed under any circumstance.

We await her next line of action with full assurance that the subsequent set of lies will not go without legal response from our esteemed client.

Signed
Prestige Platform
Twitter: @prestigplatform

-Released 1/13/2013


Stella Dimoko Korkus Responds with Press Statement

Dear Nuella,

I saw the press release and I am still laughing…laughing because you did the right thing by standing up to defend yourself but you used the wrong words and you focused on the wrong topic. I was not the only blog who broke that story, in fact I was the second person who broke the story and the other blog has other details you might also choose to respond to..check www.bononline.tv

The story there is as follows: ”When you see Nuella Njubigbo ride in her Toyota Highlander, please know that it is Rivers state tax payers money moving in action as it was a gift from Rivers Governor Rotimi Amaechi for all the love she has been showering on him since they met coincidentally through a desperate businessman looking from patronage from the Governor.

Bononline gathered that Nuella met Governor Amaechi when a Desperate Contractor who had heard several tales of Gov Amaechi sex orgy with Nollywood stars including being a major contributing factor to the collapse of the marriage of a Big Nollywood star who also fell apart from her friend who is a divorcee and has a record of being Nollywood serial lover who went behind her to sleep with the deep pocket Governor. The plan between the contractor and Nuella was for her to hook the Governor during the presentation and thereafter help convince the Governor to go on with deal, Plan A worked well as the Governor liked Nuella and they exchanged numbers but plan B completely failed as Nuella just hooked on to the Governor and forgot the contractor, we learnt that part of the goodies Nuella had benefited from Gov Amaechi is her Toyota Highlander taken from the pool of cars which
was supposed to be given to Government officials and she reportedly got 5m late November.
Twice she has also been on the Govt delegation Aboard.”

I will tender my apology at the end of this memo no doubt but first I want to tackle some issues that you pointed out in your press release. Note that my response has nothing to do with ”pulling you down further”, I am only trying one last attempt like a drowning fish to rescue my name that you called out in your release….I want to state here categorically that I am not a babalawo, hence your
reference to ”the writers concoction of lies was a misfire”.

Let me start from the beginning.
I am so sorry for not contacting you before I released my story concerning you and the South-South Governor, I guess that was a misfire on my side but the thing is I am tired of the lies told by you and your ilk when called to confirm a story…biko forgive me for that.

I never claimed or wrote anywhere that Nuella lives in the east with a Nollywood producer. I reported last year that Actress Nuella was in a neck deep in a relationship with movie producer Tchidi Chikere and that he had moved out of his home into hers. They came out with a press release denying that anything of such was happening. I hinted that the actress may be pregnant and her flat tummy proved me wrong.

The publicist of that press release confirmed that relationship and even said the producers wife was the reason her marriage crashed, the publicist also corrected me that Nuella was not pregnant.
Before I broke the report of Nuella’s affair with Tchidi which was an open secret, they had been dating for many months before the report and Tchidi was a known face at her abode in
Lagos. The second man I reported she dated was international footballer Emmanuel…. whom she
visited briefly in Russia. If she claims she did not go to Russsia to drink tea then so be
it, but thank God she did not break the footballer’s relationship to someone else. I quote ”The writer should be bold enough to say publicly what axe she has to grind with Nuella rather than hide behind the noble profession of journalism to execute her cheap hatchet job. An open declaration of her true intentions will probably confer on her some measure of respect which she desperately needs to salvage her dwindling career fortunes.

Journalism is not for rumour mongers. We know it is her stock in trade to blackmail rising
stars and ‘A-listers’ who are mostly her friends until they come and pay ‘homage’. We won’t be blackmailed under any circumstance.”
This is my Response to this below the belt comment towards me.

WHAT DWINDLING FORTUNE? WHAT DWINDLING CAREER? I HAVE BEEN WRITING FOR 12YRS AND I WILL NOT WRITE FOREVER..NUELLA WILL NOT ACT FOREVER TOO:::AND WHAT IS MY BUSINESS WITH NUELLA? OF COURSE I AM A GOSSIP WRITER AND I HAVE NEVER CLAIMED TO BE OTHERWISE, IF YOU GET HIT DONT GET PERSONAL BY SAYING I AM BLACKMAILING YOU, PLEASE PROVIDE PROOF OF BLACKMAIL FROM ANYONE IN NOLLYWOOD THAT I HAVE SENT. THIS IS THE RECENT BABASH BY NOLLYWOOD PEOPLE AND THEIR EMERGENCY PUBLICISTS….WHEN A STORY EMERGES THEY SCREAM BLACKMAIL…IF BLACKMAIL IS MY
STOCK IN TRADE THEN HUSBAND SNATCHING IS YOURS NUELLA….REPENT AND I WILL BE RIGHT BEHIND YOU!

IF NUELLA IS PAID OVER N500k PER SCRIPT TO ACT THEN SOMEBODY MUST BE PRINTING FAKE MONEY, CAN WE SEE PROOF OF WHO HAS PAID HER ANY AMOUNT RANGING UP TO 100k TO ACT?….I REPEAT THAT THE CAR WAS A GIFT FROM HER SOUTH-SOUTH GOVERNOR BOYFRIEND, HOWEVER I AM SORRY IF MY STORY HAS SPOILT THE NECK DEEP ROMANCE.

NUELLA IF YOU CLAIM YOU DID NOT VISIT THE GOVERNOR WITH A CERTAIN YOUNG MAN WHO HAD BUSINESS PROPOSALS WITH THE GOVERNOR AND TOOK YOU ALONG AS BLING BLING THEN I DONT KNOW WHAT ELSE TO SAY.

—I DONT WANT TO DRAG ISSUES BUT DOES ANY PAY PAGE ON YOUR INTERNATIONAL PASSPORT SHOW THAT YOU TRAVELLED TO GHANA IN NOVEMBER 2012? WHO WITH? IF YOU CLAIM ITS A CONCOCTION OF MY LIES, PROVE IT.
—–DID YOU HAVE A SHOUTING MATCH WITH YOUR PRODUCER LOVER OVER YOUR SMS EXCHANGE WITH THE SOUTH SOUTH GOVERNOR OR NOT?CHECK YOUR SMS IF YOU HAVENT DELETED THEN CHECK ALL YOUR FRIENDS, ONE OR PROBABLY BOTH IS LEAKING.

—–IN DECEMBER 2012 WHEN HANGING OUT WITH FRIENDS DID YOU BOAST TO THEM THAT AFTER THE ‘JEEP’ THE NEXT THING TO COLLECT IS A HO– USE.
TRY TO REMEMBER EVERYONE YOU HUNG OUT WITH ON THIS DAY NUELLA. THERE MUST BE A HOLE OR IT MUST BE ANOTHER OF MY CONCOCTIONS.

I APOLOGISE FOR BLOWING THE LID OFF YOUR SECRET ROMANCE(S)HOWEVER THE GOSSIP THING I DO GIVES ME NO ROOM TO THINK TWICE. I AM INDEED SORRY FOR THE EMBARRASSMENT THE STORY MUST HAVE CA– USED YOU AND YOUR LOVER.
IF YOU CHOSE TO SEEK LEGAL REDRESS, I MAY HAVE TO RECOMMEND THAT YOU TRY RADICAL LAWYER FESTUS KEYAMO, HE IS GOOD IN HELPING LIARS WIN CASES OF SUCH AND PUTTING SHAMELESS;’DWINDLING FORTUNE AND CAREER JOURNALISTS’LIKE ME TO SHAME.

THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU NUELLA/PRESTIGE MEDIA.

Republished Excerpt from the AML Charly Boy v. Mirror Newspaper case discussing Libel.

According to the (Nigeria’s) Supreme Court, “The tort of defamation is either libel or slander, the difference being that the former is written while the latter is spoken.

The essential ingredients of libel are:
1. The words complained of must have been written;
2. The publication must be false
3. The words must be defamatory or convey defamatory imputation;
4. The words must refer to the plaintiff;
5. I t must be the defendant who published the words;
6. The onus is on the plaintiff to prove he was the one referred to in the alleged libel.”

NOTE: If you want to prove your libel case in Nigeria, the law requires an actual reproduction of the entire article you say is libelous.

“For the plaintiff to succeed in a case of Libel he must reproduce verbatim the whole of the article or the particular passage he complains of in his pleadings.” –See Guardian Newspaper v. Pastor Rjei (note the parties are listed the way they are because the case was appealed by the Guardian newspaper. In the lower trial court when the case was first filed, it would be listed as Pastor Rjei v. Guardian.)

Damages/Money You Win
If the court finds that a Plaintiff wins his/her case, what next? The court has to tell the Plaintiff how much s/he won.

“In libel cases, once the offensive article is found to be libelous of the plaintiff, damages follow and the damages awarded is general damages. On the other hand where there is direct pecuniary benefit from the offensive publication punitive damages are awarded. See Awolowo v. Kingsway Stores Ltd & Anor.”

NOTE: Punitive damages is awarded to punish a person.

When the court is awarding damages, it must consider the following factors when exercising (its) discretion:
(a) The standing of the plaintiff in society
(b) The nature of the Libel
(c) The mode and extent of the publication
(d) The refusal to retract or render an apology to the plaintiff
(e) The value of the local currency

See Mayange v. Panoh Nig Ltd 1994 7NWLR pt .358 p. 570, Ziks Press Ltd v. Alvan Ikoku 13 WACA p.188

FINALCOMMENTS
Defendants can claim qualified Privilege or Fair Comment, among others, as a defense. Often, “Fair Comment” is used as a defense.

A couple of things on “fair comment.” When you file a lawsuit in Nigerian courts for defamation including libel and slander, there is a presumption of a “technical malice” as the Supreme Court has been quoted in saying in other similar defamation cases. This means it is presumed that the Defendant acted with Malice. Once the defendant, the person you sued i.e. media says, “your honor it was a “fair comment!” that presumption is rebutted and now, you must make a claim and showing of “actual malice” if you want punitive damages aka (punishment money).

In the USA, we get to a malice analysis  if celebrity/public figures are involved. That is because the US Supreme Court in the 1964 New York Times Co. v. Sullivan did away with the common law use of “Fair Comment.” The Court reasoned that the US values the freedom of the press which includes freedom from punishment just because you publish a story. When public officials/celebrity figures act, their conduct is in the public interest, and as such, the public has the “right to know.” Therefore, the standard is a lot tougher to defeat when a celebrity sues a newspaper/blogger etc. for defamation.

Finally, what is “fair comment?” I like this Wikipedia definition which almost seems like a play on the malice doctrine, although it discusses US law.

“In the United States, the traditional privilege of “fair comment” is seen as a protection for robust, even outrageous published or spoken opinions about public officials and public figures. Fair comment is defined as a “common law defense [that] guarantees the freedom of the press to express statements on matters of public interest, as long as the statements are not made with ill will, spite, or with the intent to harm the plaintiff.”

-Uduak

Photo descriptions: First photo – Stella Dimoko Korkus. Second Photo: Actress Nuella

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