Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pastor Oyedepo's Slap Suit goes to Appeal Court

Robert Igbinedion, the lawyer suing on behalf of the
teenage girl humiliated with a dirty slap by Bishop
Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church in a video
which gained worldwide publicity, has filed an
appeal challenging the judgement which gave
victory to the wealthy Bishop in an Ogun State High
Court two months ago.
The appeal (Suit No: MT/73/2012) stated that the
trial Judge, Mobolaji Ojo placed unnecessary and
undue reliance on technicalities of the case to the
detriment of the suit.
Mr. Igbinedion said that the judge erred in law by
concluding that a better affidavit, which he filed to
replace the former one after a preliminary
objection was raised by the respondent, contained
fresh issues.
The appeal faulted the grounds on which the
judgement was held. The appeal stated that
plaintiff lawyer did not necessarily need to prove his
presence during the particular service or show the
date or time since he had already presented video
evidence that the incident actually took place.
Igbinedion also said he did not necessarily need to
present the victim, whom he represented as 'Miss
Justice' in the suit, before pursuing the case.
"The Learned Judge failed to advert his mind to
the Preamble to the Fundamental Rights
(Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009 which
obliged him to encourage and welcome public
interest litigations in the human rights field on
behalf of the poor, the illiterate and the vulnerable,
amongst others", the appeal statement read.
It also challenged the judgement for not ratifying
the issue of the court's jurisdiction on the matter as
raised by the respondents' counsel in a preliminary
objection before going ahead to dismiss the suit.
"Where the Respondent is challenging the court’s
jurisdiction to hear the Application, he may apply
to the court for an order striking out the suit or
setting aside the proceeding", it said.
The lawyer also noted that the judge held that the
victim of the slap was a 'fictitious character' who is
non-existent and has no standing,
In that judgement, the judge asked: "Who is Miss
Justice, how old is she, what is her standing in life,
what are her particulars? The court must be able to
ascertain and cannot be left to speculate on the
identity of the person whose right is being sought to
be enforced by declaratory orders, award of
damages and injunctive orders. The court cannot
issue and make order in favour of a ghost victim/
applicant. If I may ask, should this action succeed,
who is going to be the beneficiary of the monetary
award sought.”
Mr. Igbinedion in the appeal suggested that that
view, by the judge is irrelevant, discriminatory and
deliberately calculated to arrive at a favourable
He wrote: "The Appellant has by his further and
better Affidavit given many privileged reasons why
he cannot disclose the complete identity of the
victim to prevent her from further harm.
"The learned trial Judge failed to advert his mind to
the provisions of Rules 32(2) (b) which states that
in presenting a matter to the court, a lawyer shall
disclose the identity of his clients he represents and
the person who briefed him unless such disclosure
is priviledged or irrelevant", the appealant stated
A video footage shows Bishop Oyedepo of the Living
Faith Church, also known as Winners Chapel,
during an alter call in his church at Ota, where,
during an alter call, accused a teenage girl of
witchcraft and slapped her across the face for
declining witchcraft but saying she was a 'witch-
for-Christ.' The video was uploaded online and
spread cross all social media sites.
The Bishop during another service in his Church,
following the slapping footage going viral, boasted
about the act and claimed he was a 'Baba witch'

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