A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja this Thursday, June 30, 2016 ordered frontline singer and politician, Ms. Onyeka Onwenu to pay the sum of Five Million Naira as damages for defamation of character to Chief Tony Okoroji, former President of PMAN and Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).
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 Chief Okoroji to be published in Vanguard Newspapers and www.vanguardngr.com, the website of Vanguard Newspapers.
Reacting to the judgment, a jubilant Chief Tony Okoroji who was in court said, ”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 Akinkugbe who 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.
"I 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.
"I wish I never had to take Ms. Onwenu to court. I consider every Nigerian musician including Onyeka a 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.
"Every appeal to Ms Onwenu to reconsider what she was doing fell on deaf ears. Onyeka Onwenu has known me for many years. She knows very well that under no circumstance would I take a penny that does not belong to me but it suited her purpose to project me to the world as a thief. Onyeka knows that I am a stickler for rules and order but it made her happy to tell the world that I am lawless and a despot. I know that very few people will believe this: three years ago, Onyeka Onwenu went to the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Ikeja to wickedly report that I was chasing her around at night in a red Jeep in her neighborhood with the intent to assassinate her! This crazy report with absolutely no foundation was made a few days to my Birthday (December 22) and Christmas. I have little doubt that the intent was to have me suffer in jail during my Birthday, Christmas and New Year. It took the wisdom of the police authorities and the intervention of elders in the music industry such as Evangelist Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi, Prof Victor Uwaifo and Dr. Ben Ofoeze to save me from the wickedness carefully planned for me by someone I had treated with so much respect and love as my sister and friend.
"My commitment to my colleagues in the music industry, the whole of the Arts and the Nigerian nation remains unshaken. From the work we are doing, I see a very bright future soon for the creative industries in Nigeria. How many times have I passed this road? I hope my experience will be a lesson to young Nigerians that if you keep your hands clean and do your job diligently, it does not matter what wickedness any man or woman may contrive against you, the good Lord will protect you. The harder they come, the harder they fall".
Reacting to the judgment, ace broadcaster and well known friend of Chief Tony Okoroji, Mr. Patrick Doyle said "Some will recall that I publicly cautioned Onyeka Onwenu when she began her ill-advised war of attrition against Chief Tony Okoroji. I 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".