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US Court Fines Nigerian Blogger $50,000 For Defaming MFM Overseer

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A Baltimore County Circuit Court in the United States of America presided over by Theresa Adams, has slammed a record $50,000 damages on a US-based Nigerian blogger, Funke Ashekun, for defaming the General Overseer, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Dr Daniel Olukoya.

A statement on Thursday by Olukoya’s media aide, Collins Edomaruse, said the jury found that the postings of Ashekun defamed the MFM and portrayed its pastors in a false light.

Delivering its judgment in the matter with Case Number: C-03-CV-22-004424, the court returned a unanimous verdict in favour of MFM USA and its three pastors, Grace Ugeh, Kunle Ladipo and Adekunle Adekola.

According to the MFM, Ashekun, who recently relocated to the United States, “has been on social media, spreading all manners of falsehoods against the MFM Church and its General Overseer with the sole purpose of tarnishing and damaging the reputation of the respected man of God and that of his ministry.”

Reacting to the lawsuit filed against her, the YouTuber, in a video she posted to her YouTube channel on November 28, 2023, said MFM and three of its US-based pastors filed a suit against her and accused her of defaming their General Overseer.

“I am now able to confirm to you and to formally do so now that I, Funke Ashekun, have been sued by a church in America. I want you to know I’ve been sued by a church in America. I’m also able to confirm that the name of the church that has taken me to court in America is Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, America.

“I am also able to confirm to you that I don’t know them, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Imagine, people that I don’t know are suing me. What an Irony!

“The first one is Adekunle Adekola. He’s a pastor in Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Rockville, Maryland. The second person is Kunle Ladipo. He is also a pastor in Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Bowie, Maryland. And the third person is a woman, I am surprised. She is Grace Ugeh. She is also a pastor in Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries in California; one of their branches.

“Somebody even came from California to sue me in Maryland. These are people I don’t know. I have never been to their church here in America since we relocated. I saw two of them in court recently. But I don’t think I will still recognise them if I meet two of them on the way. I am surprised how a woman will come after me for speaking against sexual assault on women,” she said.

Ashekun added that she was shocked about the lawsuit, stressing that she did not mention the name of any church or pastor in particular in any of her posts.

“I am talking about Pharaohs of our country. People that are supposed to be men of God; that people call men of God and reverence. I am talking about things going on in our churches, that there are sexual abuses going on in our churches. Women are becoming depressed. Some of them are becoming suicidal. They are being sexually molested seriously. And then a woman would come after me and take me to court for talking.

“I, also want to let you know that I, Olufunke Ashekun, am the respondent in this lawsuit in my personal capacity and to the exclusion of no other. These three people, they came after me. In fact, they came with two different lawsuits.

“One thing still shocks me, still baffles me that since I have started this programme, I have never mentioned the name of any church. When I talk about Pharaohs destroying women, destroying men, torturing, oppressing, sexually molesting women, young girls, even in the toilet, in church, inside what is supposed to be a sanctuary of God. Since I’ve started, I’ve never mentioned any church doing that.

“I’ve never mentioned the name of any pastor or any General Overseer. I have been talking about Pharaohs. Pharaoh is a Biblical name. We all know Pharaoh to be an oppressor of God’s children. It is a satirical name that I formed for this programme to pass all my messages because we need to speak out. We can’t keep quiet and allow these people to go on in our society,” she said.

Reacting to the judgment, the MFM lead counsel, Gilbert Garcia, said the “Church was gratified that the jury found in favor and vindicated our position,” according to the statement.

 

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Lagos Agog As Olusegun Aderiye Marks 70th Birthday Anniversary In Style

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The mega city of Lagos was thrown into celebration mood as an Erudite Scholar and a quintessential broadcast journalist Rev. Dr. Olusegun Aderiye celebrated his 70th PLATINUM jubilee anniversary and book launch in style.

The event which took place on Wednesday February 14th 2024 at Airport Ikeja Lagos stated with a Public Lecture titled, “The Imperative of Peace in a Troubled World” taken by Amb. (Dr) Martins Uhomoibhi (Fmr PS, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria) and the formal unveiling of: “Journey to Stardom” An Autobiography of the celebrant.

Rev Dr. Olusegun Solomon Aderiye was born on 14 February in Ekiti State, then Western Region, Nigeria.

He attended Methodist Primary School, Apaara, Oyo, 1958, Ifaki Grammar School, 1968-72, University of Lagos, 1977 and University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) 1981.

Olusegun was the Chief State House Correspondent, Nigerian Television Authority, 1985-89; Head, Current Affairs Department, African Independent Television, since 1998; Secretary, Nigerian Television Authority Ibadan Chapel.

He was a co-author of ECOMOG, Gabumo Publishing, Lagos in 1992.

Dr. Aderiye Creative Works includes Kilo Ndan Bi Wura, 1978, Awamaridi, 1979, Maje Nse 1981, My Lord is Good, 1983, What only God can do, 2023.

His National Awards are Nigeria Television Authority’s Reporter of the Year, 1983 and Nigeria Union of Journalists, since 1978.

 

The special guest of honour of the event was General Ibrahim Babangida GCFR (Former President of Nigeria) and Chief Bode George (Former Military Governor of Ondo State).

Dignitaries present at the event were Lagos state Governor ably represented by his commissioner of information and strategy Gbenga Omotoso, Speaker, Lagos State House of representative represented by one of the honourable members of the house, Steve Ogundipe.

Others were (Dr) Martin Uhomoibhi. Amb (Dr) Yemi Farounbi, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the Philippines. The event was indeed an array of who is who in Nigeria.

 

The chairman in his remark describes the celebrant as a fine gentleman and a highly efficient, courageous and diligent media practitioner with a high sense of national patriotism and an unrepentant nationalist in broadcast journalism.

He prayed that God Almighty should continue to shower Dr. Aderiye with divine wisdom, guidance, good health, protection, prosperity and longevity, so he could continue to contribute his quota to national development in the years ahead.

Dr. Aderiye in his speech appreciates his lovely wife who shared the same birthday with him Deaconess Mary Kehinde Oluwakemi and family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances both in the physical and spiritual realms for their love, friendship and kind support all through these years.

He also thanks the VIPs, relations, friends and acquaintances who have come to honour his invitation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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London Operation: Air Peace, Norse Atlantic Sign ACMI Agreement On Charter

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Norse Atlantic Airways, yesterday, announced that it entered into an agreement with Air Peace for an ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance) charter service.

This collaboration, according to the statement made available to LEADERSHIP, marks the beginning of a strategic partnership aimed at providing seamless air travel solutions between London and Lagos, Nigeria.

Commencing in April 2024, the ACMI charter will operate four times a week, offering travellers convenient and reliable transportation options between these key destinations.

Norse Atlantic Airways will be using slots at London Gatwick allocated to Air Peace to facilitate this new route.

“We are thrilled to be working with Air Peace to launch this ACMI charter service between London Gatwick and Lagos. This collaboration represents an exciting opportunity to leverage our expertise in charter operations to deliver a reliable and high-quality service to Air Peace and their customers,” said Bjørn Tore Larsen, CEO and Founder of Norse Atlantic Airways.

“Air Peace is delighted to have signed this partnership deal with Norse Atlantic Airways for the commencement of our London service. As we make a foray into the European market, we are confident that this strategic partnership will further position us to surpass the expectations of our customers, offering them superior air travel experience while we continue to optimise our operations for more innovative service delivery”, stated Allen Onyema, Chairman/CEO, Air Peace.

Norse Atlantic and Air Peace will continue to discuss potential longer-term partnerships between the two airlines to explore avenues for further collaboration and expansion in the future.

 

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N30bn To Govs: ‘My Statement Unverified’, Akpabio Recants

“The President of the Senate recognizes and appreciates the current efforts of the governors at ameliorating the adverse effects of the current inclement socio-economic environment and therefore invites more hands on the plow to complement the renewed hope agenda.”

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President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has recanted his claim that state governors received an additional N30 billion from the Federal Government to address the biting economic hardship in the country by the distribution of palliatives to Nigerians.

Recall that Akpabio made the claim on Wednesday, February 22 while the Senate considered the report of its joint Committees on Finance, Agriculture/Food Sufficiency, Banking and Insurance.

The committee had interfaced with the economic management team of the government, led by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, to find out what the government had done to tackle hunger, food inflation, a free-falling naira exchange rate to the US dollar, among others.

In the course of deliberations on the matter by senators, Akpabio had repeatedly stated without mincing word that each state governor received an additional N30bn from the centre to address the challenges, besides the regular allocations the states draw from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).

“Each of the 36 states received N30bn; they received N30bn”, he kept saying.

However, 24 hours later, governors began refuting the claim.

Prominent among them was the Governor of Akpabio’s own state, Akwa Ibom, Pastor Umo Eno, who not only said such an amount was not received by the state but also added that it was possible the Senate President was speaking with prophetic expectations.

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State also said much, dismissing Akpabio’s claim.

On Monday night, Akpabio’s office finally summoned the courage to recant his statement, saying that he acted on unverified information.

His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, in a statement on Monday night, appealed for calm, saying that Akpabio held the governors in high esteem.

Eyiboh’s full statement is reproduced below: “The office of the President of the Senate has been drawn to various misconceptions in the public domain on the statement credited to the President of the Senate in plenary of Wednesday, February 21, 2024, during the presentation of a report of the joint Committees on Finance, Agriculture/Food Sufficiency, Banking and Insurance. During the session the President of the Senate commented on the payment of an unverified cumulative sum of about N30b to the sub-national governments by the Federal Government for various interventions to ameliorate the food situation of our citizens at the sub-national governments.

“The unfortunate conjectures to take away the kernel in the material facts of FAAC payment are rather regretted. In considering the well-intended motive of urging state governments to collaborate with the Federal government of President Bola Tinubu to facilitate strategic interventions to mitigate the prevailing economic situation in the country remains the underpinning motivation in the comment.

“The President of the Senate is not oblivious to the fact that State governments are functional partners in all the efforts of the current administration of President Bola Tinubu and are also valuable Stakeholders’ in the various legislative engagements of the legislature in creating the nexus between the legislature and the people.

“The President of the Senate has always demonstrated commitment to team building and shall not do less in the circumstance. He therefore urges the sub-national governments not to be distracted by any misunderstanding of the context and true meaning of the statement.

“The President of the Senate recognizes and appreciates the current efforts of the governors at ameliorating the adverse effects of the current inclement socio-economic environment and therefore invites more hands on the plow to complement the renewed hope agenda.”

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