The Punch newspaper has clarified its report on the court case between photographer, Busola Dakolo, and Senior Pastor, Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, Biodun Fatoyinbo.
The newspaper had reported on its website on Thursday that the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Bwari, Abuja dismissed the case filed by Dakolo against Fatoyinbo and ordered her to pay a fine of N1 million.
The report sparked controversy on social media as Dakolo’s legal team and supporters claimed that the court did not order that a fine should be paid.
Reacting to the controversy, The Punch published the certified copy of the court judgement on Saturday which revealed that the judge ordered Dakolo’s lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, to pay the sum of N1 million personally as a fine and not Mrs. Dakolo.
Earlier reports and a sponsored post in The PUNCH, published about three hours after the said judgment, had said in error that the damage was awarded against Dakolo personally.
Justice Othman Musa, in giving the judgment, held that the court action amounted to “an injustice and an abuse of judicial process.”
The judge wrote that
“What is left in the suit is sentiment and the case is soaked in emotions and ferried into the court by the claimant (Dakolo) riding on the thick clouds of burgeoning sentiments.”
While the judge acknowledged the sensitivity surrounding rape claims and the compassion they ordinarily attract, he added that it would be an act of ‘grave injustice’ to ask the defendant to defend the allegation in the absence of necessary evidence.
His Lordship added that “dormant claims such as this have injustice written all over it.”
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“No matter how one views the claim, having compassion, that an issue such as rape is pleaded herein, it is my view that notwithstanding the statute of limitation, it will occasion a grave miscarriage of justice to ask the defendant to defend an action that is well over 16 years.
Giving reasons for his judgment, Justice Musa wrote:
“The claims carry more of cruelty in them than justice. There are no new facts resurrecting the broken chain of causation in the instant action whereas in this case, the claimant ought to demonstrate the reason why the action was not filed for over 16 years.
“This, she ought to have done by claiming, for instance, due to DNA evidence, they have been able to discover new facts that were allegedly not available and tie the said DNA to the defendant. This is not the case in the instant action.
“It is for all the reasons I advanced herein before, that I declare this action a vehicle of injustice, judicial intimidation and thorough abuse of judicial process carrying in it an overload of dormant claim and injustice, it must and is hereby dismissed. I hereby award the cost of one million naira (N1, 000, 000) against the claimant’s client personally.”
Justice Musa added that he would have ordered Dakolo’s lawyer to pay “10 times the amount” but “in the interest of women who have cases that are dormant, the court shall always encourage them to come forward.”