US court slams N44m fine on blogger, Funke Ashekun for defaming MFM overseer, Daniel Olukoya

US court slams N44m fine on blogger, Funke Ashekun for defaming MFM overseer, Daniel Olukoya

A Baltimore County Circuit Court in the United States presided over by Theresa Adams, has rendered a groundbreaking verdict imposing a record $50,000

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A Baltimore County Circuit Court in the United States presided over by Theresa Adams, has rendered a groundbreaking verdict imposing a record $50,000 (N44 million) in damages against Funke Ashekun, a Nigerian blogger.

The damages were awarded for defamation against the General Overseer of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM), Daniel Olukoya.

This decision, made under Case Number: C-03-CV-22-004424, saw the court unanimously ruling in favor of MFM USA and its pastors Grace Ugeh, Kunle Ladipo, and Adekunle Adekola.

The court concluded that Ashekun’s online posts had defamed MFM and presented its pastors in a false light.

According to a statement released by Collins Edomaruse, the media aide to Dr. Olukoya, the court’s decision was a response to Ashekun’s social media activities, where she was accused of spreading various falsehoods against the MFM Church and its General Overseer.

The court found that these actions were carried out with the explicit purpose of tarnishing the reputation of Dr. Olukoya and the broader ministry.

In a video posted on her YouTube channel on November 28, 2023, Ashekun confirmed the legal action taken against her by MFM and three US-based pastors.

She expressed surprise at being sued by people she claimed not to know and identified them as Adekunle Adekola, a pastor at MFM Rockville, Maryland, Kunle Ladipo, a pastor at MFM Bowie, Maryland, and Grace Ugeh, a pastor at MFM California.

Ashekun, who highlighted her efforts to address societal issues, particularly instances of sexual abuse within churches, reiterated that she had not specifically named any church or pastor in her posts.

She expressed shock and disbelief at the lawsuit, emphasizing her commitment to speaking out against societal injustices.

The lead counsel for MFM, Gilbert Garcia, responded to the court’s decision by expressing the church’s satisfaction.

He stated that the jury’s verdict supported MFM’s position, effectively vindicating the church against the defamation claims.

This legal outcome underscores the growing impact of online communications and the legal responsibilities associated with disseminating information on social media platforms.