SEASON Of OPEN LETTERS : Oliver shares his perspective
RE: “MOVERS AND SHAKERS”I write in response to an earlier posting cited on this blog with the title “Movers and Shakers” in the faculty of law. If you’d like to understand the perspective from which I’m writing this response you can read the post on this link HERE so you’d better appreciate my point of view.
Although the writer of the post seems to have taken a very little or perhaps no shots at me (perhaps not knowing much about my silly side), I have taken the liberty to write this response for those to whom I believe apology should be owed. Nevertheless, I would not discourage posts on the blog that would elicit humor but would suggest that we tred with caution. (by the way this does’nt take away the fact that I still enjoy the blog posts regularly:). Lawyers are instruments of social engineering and we must value the “reciprocacity” of respect.
I must say that I found the post funny on first reading and Im sure this was what the writer, Blog committee and anyone would feel or have felt when they read it. However, due to the recurrence of some defamatory inferences as regards certain aspects of the post, there was some need to get the smile off my face. Particular reference is made to Cornel and Mr Mike though everyone had a swipe taken at them.
The writer started by saying that anyone who felt aggrieve about the posting should “go and die”. This clearly shows that the writer knew or should be deemed to have known that certain contents in the post could offend some persons, but did not care about how they would feel. This should not be an acceptable conduct particularly in a society of law students where we know the high premium we should place on our words.
Furthermore, let me remind us of the tort of defamation, which according to Gatley includes “a statement which tends to lower a person in the estimation of right-thinking members of the society or expose him to hatred, contempt or ridicule.” Case in reference here is Egbuna v. Amalgamaated Press of Nigeria, where the Supreme Court’s holding was to the effect that a statement which could lower a person in the estimation of his colleagues would be defamatory. Now consider these statements and tell me if it is, in the light if the above, not defamatory: “probably the only tom boy in the faculty of law”- reference to Elizabeth. “maga”, “chicks in the faculty take turns to grace his bed”- Mr Mike. “walking gist hub” “cunning politician” “ass-kissing”-in reference to Cornel. “Jonny Bravo”- in reference to Allen. “Bimbo seems proud and domineering”-Bimbo. “…she commands a bit of respect (it’s not easy to work with Lari-Williams and not be respected even if you do nothing)”- in reference to Esther. “the list is about movers and shakers but the manner of moving and shaking was not specified…her mode of dressing is simply scandalous…How many girls , in broad day light can wear a net top with just bra underneath to class?” -Seun.
These are just some quotes from the posting not to talk of some strong untrue allegations (this English get as e bi).
You may think its “just someone’s funny opinion …how did it affect them?” Well in cases of slander you don’t have to show how it affects you…that’s why its actionable per se (without proof of actual damage. See. Nthenda v. Alade and Williams v. The West African Pilot). And if you’re still wondering how it can be proved that this post was defamatory, there are only 3 requirements that need to be proved
•1. That the words were defamatory
•2. That they referred to the plaintiff.
•3. That the words were published. Although some of these may have been purely legal innuendo but that doesnt mean they are not defamatory. And if you’re saying “the person was just joking and did not intend to defame anybody”, remember that as Gatley points out, at common law it is no defence to slander that the defedant did not intend to defame anybody. (see. Hulton v. Jones and Casidy v. Daily Mirror Newspaper Ltd.)
Now you might be saying again,” who will you sue self, the person did not put his or her name”. The blog administrators would ofcourse be liable:
•1. They are vicariously liable for publications by their writers. This is particularly considering that they vet what is uploaded.
•2. It is not a defence in the publishing of a defamatory statement that the defendant was merely repeating what someone else said ( see. Truth Ltd. V. Holloway). Even if they did not read it or where not aware that it was defamatory, they will still be liable as that would be negligence on their part for them not to have read what they uploaded (see. Awolowo v. Kingsway Stores on effect of negligence on the defence of innocent dissemination of defamatory material).
In conclusion, it is clear that I am csomeone that has taken out time to recap what I know on the tort of defamation (however little…i still passed tort sha) and I have come here to use you people to practice law…lol. However, we must be cautioned because having known the law we must not be caught on the wrong side of it. This is how people get caught in claims for tort out there…lawyers at equity, we should know better. Defamation might just be a funny opinion…but that is why there is the tort, so that when you finish laughing you will be taken to court to pay for your laughter.lol. Please lets avoid defamation on this blog and keep the humor healthy…great job y’all.