Drama of a SLANDER (1)

(It is a good afternoon, it is raining heavily, Barr. Ojulari had switched off the A.C in his office and opened the window for natural cool ventilation. He sits on his chair and about to doze off when Mr. Mellow enters with wet clothes on him)

MR. MELLOW: Hi Mr. Lawyer, how are you doing?

BARR. OJULARI: (opens his eyes widely) Oh! Friend I’m good. Why did you come here inside this heavy downpour?

MR. MELLOW: Abeg! Leave me alone. Why are you also sleeping on duty?

BARR. OJULARI: So you are here to challenge me in my office! Abeg getat! (They both burst into laughter)

MR. MELLOW: Before I say anything, I want you to firstly read this text message that was sent to me by one of my Engineers just now.

BARR. OJULARI: (Collects the phone and reads loudly) “Good day, for the reason that you publicly called me a thief and incompetent engineer yesterday, get ready to hear from my lawyers soon.” Awesome, he sent you this?

MR. MELLOW: Yes, that’s why I had to come here inside the rain.

BARR. OJULARI: What really happened, were you both arguing?



MR. MELLOW: No! We were not arguing. In fact I was the one that went to meet him where the incident occurred.

BARR. OJULARI: What really happened that led to the incident?

MR. MELLOW: I went to my farm yesterday to audit the farm expenses, I discovered that one of my tractors is no more working, I asked the farm manager, he told me that it is the Engineer that I am paying with own money that caused the tractor not to be working. He said I owe him some money, and he will not repair the tractor if I don’t pay his arrears.

BARR. OJULARI: So you were aggressive and went to meet him in the public to disgrace him!

MR. MELLOW: Yes, in fact, people were even about to lynch him for me before I rebuke them from doing so.

BARR. OJULARI: Mr. Man, had it been that both of you were in a hot argument and you uttered that statement, it would amount to vulgar abuse and for a mere vulgar abuse or insult you can not be dragged to court [1]. But here, you told him that he is a thief and incompetent engineer in a cold blood, without any heat argument between you and him. You have just committed SLANDER. Because your conduct amounts to Defamation.

MR. MELLOW: You have started again, why will you be defending the other person against me. Do you think I’m not aware of chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution that talks about freedom of speech? You think I don’t know that I have freedom of expression under the law? How would I say something and a person will now decide to be intimidating me with Lawyers because of what I say?

BARR. OJULARI: Calm down Mr. Man. You are a Professor, but you are not a Professor of law. Though as a citizen of Nigeria, you have freedom of expression [2], you can talk wherever and whenever you like with whatever means you like but…



MR. MELLOW: But what again?

BARR. OJULARI: Right to freedom of speech comes with a responsibility to keep within the law and anyone who fails to keep within accepted boundaries must be subjected to the law[3]. The law does not permit you to defame another person because you want to enjoy your own right to freedom of speech.

MR. MELLOW: Now, you’ve talked about SLANDER and DEFAMATION, are they the same thing?

BARR. OJULARI: Defamation is a statement which if published of and concerning a person, is calculated to lower him in the estimation of right thinking men or cause him to be shunned or avoided or to expose him to hatred, contempt, or ridicule or to convey an imputation on him disparaging or injurious to him in his office, profession, calling, trade or business[4].

MR. MELLOW: Ah!

BARR. OJULARI: SLANDER is one of the two types of Defamation, it is defamation in transient form, most often through spoken words or gesture[5]. Because you have expressed a defamatioal word to him. It is sufficient to say that you have slander him.

MR. MELLOW:Hmmm hmmmm! Wahala dey o

BARR. OJULARI: Although, not every slander can be taken to court unless the affected person has suffered an actual loss[6[, like dismissal of employment, oscratiation or any other injury as a result of the slander.

MR. MELLOW: Thank God, he has not suffered any actual loss. I think I am free.

BARR. OJULARI: He has a good case against you, you called him a thief, theft is a crime that is punisable with at least, three years imprisonment in Nigeria[7], if you slander a person with an imputation of crime, you won’t go scot free, even if he has not suffered any actual damage, he can still sue you to court over this matter.[8]

MR. MELLOW: For calling him an ordinary thief!



BARR. OJULARI: Have you forgotten that you still called him an incompetent engineer?

MR. MELLOW: Is that one a defamation too?

BARR. OJULARI: Of course it is. Any imputation that will affect someone’s professional business reputation is a defamation [9]. Who will hear that he is incompetent and still want to do business with him? It will affect his professional business of course!

MR. MELLOW: As usual, I have done this, what legal step can we take to avert the wrath of law?

BARR. OJULARI: Had it been that what you said about him is true, we will open a defense of justification for you to proof your assertion and you will win the case. But in this circumstance, you can’t win, unless what you said is true, is it true?

MR. MELLOW: Ah! Let me confess, it is not a truth. I just said it out of speculation. Help me please.

BARR. OJULARI: The only thing we can do now is to call him urgently for settlement and beg him to forgive and forget before he sue you to court. Are you ready to beg and compromise?

MR. MELLOW: I am ready, but I will be going to Makkah for Hajj before the weekend, so I won’t be available for now.

BARR. OJULARI: OK, no problem. It is just that defamation is both a civil and criminal wrong. He can approach the court for either or both of the two. The implication is that, you may not only be fined to pay damages again, you may even be imprisoned for just one year[10].

MR. MELLOW: One year in prison, and you call it just! I must find a means to make sure that we meet and settle this matter amicably tomorrow.

BARR. OJULARI: That will be better. You know it this is your case, and you can do it as it pleases you.

MR. MELLOW: One thing about you is that, my mind is always at rest if I’m with you, I know I don’t have any legal problem. In fact, I will pay for you, we are going to this Hajj together.

BARR. OJULARI: Okay o, Prof! Prof!! That will be better too.
(Mr. Mellow exit the Chambers)



REFERENCE(S)
[1] Bakare V. Ishola (1959) W.N.L.R. 106; Olakunori V. Olujatin (1971) 2. U.I.L.R 226
[2] Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
[3] Afe Babalola SAN “When False Publication May Amount to Criminal Libel” retrieved from https://www. abuad. edu. ng/when-false-publications-may-amount-to-criminal-libel/ accessed on 19th June, 2022.
[4]. The Sketch Publishing Co. Ltd. And Anor. V. Alhaji Azeez A. Ajagbemokeferi (1989) 1 NWLR (PT. 100) 678I.
[5]. Kodilinye and Aluko, “The Nigerian Law of Tort”, Rev. Ed., Spectrum Law Publishing, Ibadan, 1996, p139
[6].Kodilinye and Aluko, “The Nigerian Law of Tort”, Rev. Ed., Spectrum Law Publishing, Ibadan, 1996, p140
[7]. Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act
[8]. Agaoka V. Ejiofor (1972) 2 E.C.S.L.R. 109
[9]. Kodilinye and Aluko, “The Nigerian Law of Tort”, Rev. Ed., Spectrum Law Publishing, Ibadan, 1996, p143


ABDULRAUF Abdullahi Adebayo, is a Law student, a Certified Teacher , a Content Creator , a Dynamic Writer and a Ghost Writer. He can be reached via +2349034904883 and [email protected]

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