Home Court N5b defamation suit: ‘I’m not a smuggler’, Customs agent tells court

N5b defamation suit: ‘I’m not a smuggler’, Customs agent tells court

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A Customs licensed agent, Ibrahim Egungbohun, has approached a Federal High Court in Abuja to debunk an allegation that he is a top smuggler.

Egungbohun, popularly called IBD Dende, in the suit he filed through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Bola Aidi (SAN), said he was on several occasions, through posts that were shared on a social media platform, X, described as the biggest smuggler in the South West region of the country.

He told the court that he was equally wrongly accused on the micro-blogging platform of smuggling bullets and guns to the eastern part of Nigeria.

According to the claimant, a series of defamatory posts that were made against him by the defendants tarnished his hard-earned reputation and caused him a loss of goodwill.

Cited as 1st to 3rd defendants in the suit marked CV/2286/24, are; an investigative journalist, Fisayo Soyombo; the Foundation for Investigative Journalism and the Arise Media Group.

The claimant told the court that he is an established and renowned businessman and philanthropist.

“The claimant is a Customs Licensed Agent and the owner and Chief Executive Officer of IBD Impex Limited, a company which is into clearing and forwarding of goods, construction, agriculture, real estate, and oil and gas.

“The claimant, as a clearing and forwarding agent, carries out his legitimate work of importation through the land border just like every other clearing and forwarding agent.

“The claimant is also into the hospitality business and is the owner of IBD International Hotel in Ogun State, adding that he is “an indigene of Ogun State, is also a socialite and is well known within the social and public space as IBD Dende,” the statement read.

“The claimant’s hard work, integrity, dedication and tenacity have given him business goodwill among well-meaning Nigerians and have enabled the claimant to establish business and personal relationships with top Nigerian businessmen and politicians including Nigerian President, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, incumbent Governor of Ogun State, His Excellency, Dapo Abiodun, amongt several others,” he averred in the court process.

He told the court that owing to “the persistent defamation of the claimant by the defendants, “the Eselu of Iselu in Ogun state, Oba Akintunde Akinyemi, who is his traditional monarch, wrote an ‘Open Letter’ to the 3rd defendant on the defamatory and damaging nature of a documentary that was aired against him.

“In the said open letter, the monarch advised the 1st and 3rd defendants to desist from further defamation of his subject and to always verify their claims before feeding it to the public.”

Citing examples of some of the posts that were shared against him, Egungbohun said, “The claimant avers that in the defamatory post of 26 March 2024, the vivid description given by the 1st defendant on how the bullets and guns alleged to have been smuggled in by the claimant were pierced into their component parts, smothered with black nylons just how turkey is packaged, lumped together with turkey as though the real import is turkey, and smuggled to eastern Nigeria with the knowledge of a particular Customs officer in Zone B shows that the 1st defendant was either present at the time of smuggling/partook in the smuggling of the bullets and guns, or that he was present and saw when the guns and bullets were smuggled into Nigeria.

“The claimant avers further to paragraph 35, that the defamatory statement of the 1st defendant that the claimant smuggled bullets and guns to eastern Nigeria is an innuendo which infers that the claimant is a sponsor of the insecurity and terrorism in eastern Nigeria.

“The claimant states that the defendants’ tagging of the claimant as a smuggler, gun runner, terrorist, etc. is outright falsehood and defamatory of the claimant’s hard-earned reputation and character as the claimant has never engaged in the act of smuggling, gun running, terrorism or any other illegal act,” among others.

Furthermore, “the claimant avers that the defendants’ derogatory post, publication and remarks have soiled his hard-earned reputation before his friends, business associates, colleagues and clients.

“The claimant avers that the defendants in defaming and assassinating his name and character with reference to his goodwill and relationship with prominent Nigerians, deliberately seek to malign the claimant’s name and reputation before his friends, business partners and political associates,” noting that the “claimant’s good name and reputation have been smeared for life by the libelous posts of the defendants.”

“The claimant puts the defendants to the strictest of proof of all the defamatory and derogatory allegations made against him,” he added.

Consequently, the claimant, among other things, prayed the court to hold that he was defamed, as well as to issue an order to compel the defendants to retract the libelous statements and tender an apology to him through their various platforms.

Aside from seeking a restraining order against the defendants, the claimant is also praying the court to award N5 billion to him

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