Retract your defamatory statement or face court action, Gbaramatu lawyers read riot act to Demebide
Lawyers under the umbrella of Gbaramatu Lawyers Association in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta state, have given a seven days ultimatum to a Warri-based lawyer, Pele Demebide, to retract the “defamatory statements” he made against Gbaramatu kingdom or face court action.
The group in a letter dated Friday, June 9, 2023 and signed by Friday Emomotimi, President and Werisinde Timiyan, Secretary, also enjoined Demebide to tender a public apology for making false statements against the respected kingdom in the Niger Delta.
GbaramatuVoice writes that Demebide posted on his Facebook page a video that has since sparked social media debate and controversy.
The statement reads in part; “We are the accredited representatives of the Gbaramatu Lawyers Association as well as indigenes of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria.
Our attention has been drawn to the defamatory and malicious video which you caused to be circulated on social media via your personal Facebook profile on the 5th day of June, 2023. It is needless to mention that we have been barraged with multiple of enquiries from different persons across the nation and in the diaspora, including but not limited to our acquaintances, business associates, members of the political class, family members, and other well-meaning Nigerians and international acquaintances, who have shown serious concerns concerning your defamatory publication, which you entitled “My position on the Speakership of Delta State House of Assembly.”
In your defamatory publication of 5th June, 2023, which you deliberately circulated to the world, you made several grave and sinister defamatory statements against the people and Kingdom of Gbaramatu.
The following is an excerpt of your defamatory publication: “The appointments that are made for the Ijaw nation are always given to the people from that Kingdom… we cannot continue to keep quiet and die…the Ijaw people in Delta State are suffocating, we are being oppressed by our own Ijaw brothers from Warri South West… all the development wen dey come Ijaw land na there he dey go, who nor come down to the creeks to bow down and worship them they will fight you and remove you… we must protect the interest of the elected governor of Delta state…them get guns, them get billions upon billions…the day the Governor will travel before he comes back; they will impeach him…they want to take power by all means…the money is there to lobby; the guns are there to shoot… before excellency will come back from foreign trip they will impeach him…Warri South-West precisely Gbaramatu is not the Headquarters of Ijaw nation and as such should not be treated as the headquarters of Ijaw nation…don’t give our thing to them for us to go and beg them…for the protection of this new administration, the Speaker should be given to Bomadi…I repeat Gbaramatu is not the headquarter of Ijaw nation and therefore don’t make Ijaw people to go and bow down for anybody before they get what is rightfully theirs…”
Reacting, the Gbaramatu lawyers stated that the publication was in bad taste to the good people of Gbaramatu kingdom.
The statement said: “We are the accredited representatives of the Gbaramatu Lawyers Association as well as indigenes of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria.
“Our attention has been drawn to the defamatory and malicious video which you caused to be circulated on social media via your personal Facebook profile on the 5th day of June, 2023. It is needless to mention that we have been barraged with multiple of enquiries from different persons across the nation and in the diaspora, including but not limited to our acquaintances, business associates, members of the political class, family members, and other well-meaning Nigerians and international acquaintances, who have shown serious concerns concerning your defamatory publication, which you entitled “My position on the Speakership of Delta State House of Assembly.”
“In your defamatory publication of 5th June, 2023, which you deliberately circulated to the world, you made several grave and sinister defamatory statements against the people and Kingdom of Gbaramatu.
“We note that even when some of your followers and persons you tagged on the defamatory post called your attention to the defamatory and false contents contained therein your post, you remained adamant in asserting and reasserting your defamatory statements, like a man determined to ruin the reputation of an entire Kingdom in the eyes of the whole world!
“It is pertinent to reiterate that we are not only indigenes of Gbaramatu Kingdom but also lawyers, deemed fit and proper to be called to the Nigerian Bar at different times, maintaining serious legal practice as our means of livelihood. It is therefore our concern that your defamatory publication against the Gbaramatu Kingdom, which we are part of, has now gravely and negatively threatened our reputation. This is not unconnected to the very fact that your publication was geared towards reducing our reputation in the eyes of the whole world, including other tribes in Nigeria as well as other Ijaw Kingdoms. It is also our concern that by imputing the crime of illegal possession of firearms on the people and Kingdom of Gbaramatu, you have now hampered our relationships with clients from other Ijaw Kingdoms, who now see us as criminal rather than counsel.
“We therefore deny all your allegations contained in your defamatory publication of 5th June, 2023, as they are nothing more than concocted, fabricated, fictitious lies, deliberately forged with the ultimate aim of reducing our reputation in the eyes of the general public.
“Despite your training as a lawyer and notwithstanding your years of service as a fellow minister in the temple of justice, you deliberately caused the aforementioned defamatory contents to be published and circulated to the whole world, even though you are well aware that by virtue of your privileged status, comments published on your Facebook profile are presumed to be factual and authentic especially when they relate to imputation of crimes, law as well as the reputation of people, particularly the Gbaramatu people. Yet, you went ahead to expose the Gbaramatu people, including us, to public contempt, ridicule with an attempt to rile the Government, other Ijaw kingdoms and well-meaning Nigerians against the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom.
“You are aware that the allegation that the Gbaramatu Kingdom has guns and have a sinister plan to unseat the Executive Governor of Delta State is untrue, baseless and without any iota of truth, yet you made the said statement line you said “…not minding whose ox is gored…” in the process. This is a clear indication that you knew of the far-reaching defamatory effects of your statement against the Gbaramatu Kingdom but you went ahead to make them, nonetheless.
“You are also aware that Gbaramatu Kingdom is a respectable and well-known Kingdom made up of seasoned/ refined professionals, Captains of industries, business moguls, Politicians, highly respectable men and women (which we are an integral part of) who have worked diligently in their various fields and have painstakingly built-up their reputation over the years through hard work and strategic relationships cutting across the boundaries of our country. The Kingdom has also lived in peace and harmony for decades with other Ijaw Kingdoms both in Delta and other States in Nigeria.
“Your deliberate, untrue and recklessly concocted statements against Gbaramatu Kingdom and indeed Warri South West was carefully orchestrated to inflict injuries on the reputation of her people. It has exposed the Kingdom as oppressors, people with money and guns to dethrone the Governor of Delta State. You did not only incite the other local governments and the Delta State Government against the Gbaramatu people, you damaged our hard-earned reputation and placed us in a position capable of impending military invasion, owing to your allegation that the Gbaramatu people possess guns and plans to commit treasonable felony by taking over the government of Delta State.”
The association thereafter tasked Dembebide to take the aforementioned actions which include, publishing in two National dailies (including The Guardian Newspaper) and the GbaramatuVoice Newspaper, a comprehensive statement, retracting his defamatory publication of 5th June, 2023, described herein this Pre Action Notice.
Also, the lawyer is expected to publish immediately on his Facebook profile, a video retracting the defamatory publication of 5th June, 2023, described herein this Pre Action Notice. According to the association, this video must have an unreserved apology to the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South Local Government Area, Delta State.
Demebide is also expected to visit the Palace of the Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom and apologise to the King and the Traditional Council for the deliberate falsehood and defamatory contents contained in his defamatory publication of 5th June, 2023, described herein this Pre Action Notice.
According to the group, failure to do this, within seven working days of the receipt of this letter, “We shall not hesitate to resort to all legal means permissible under our laws, including resorting to the Legal Practitioners Act and Rules of Professional Conduct, to seek for appropriate redress. Please, treat this letter as the first and only Pre Action Notice, preceding any subsequent proceedings that may emanate from the details of this letter”.
The group thereafter concluded that their response “also serves as a warning and a request for you to desist from making any further defamatory statement or remarks about the people and Kingdom of Gbaramatu”.