Nigeria: Pastor Jailed for Defamation

Abuja, Nigeria - A 35-year-old pastor was yesterday sentenced to six months imprisonment by an Abuja magistrate court for defaming one Pastor Jonathan Onuoha.

Pastor Rapheal Okoye of Remnant Church of Christ, Zone 6, Dutsen Alhaji, Abuja, was however given an option of N5,000 fine by Chief Magistrate, David Ochimana.

Prosecutor Albert Okara, had earlier told the court that the accused committed the offence on August 9, 2006 and was arraigned on August 14, 2006 following an allegation brought by Pastor Onuoha, who said the accused called him a dupe.

The prosecutor said the accused also told the complainant's church members that the complainant was responsible for the demolition of his building situated at Kubwa in FCT. He said accused said the complainant also duped him of N344,000.

The accused during the first hearing denied the charges and the case went through trial since 2006.

During cross examination, the complainant revealed that he was not involved in the demolition of the building and as well never collected the alleged sum from the accused. He said the accused was one of his pastors and wanted to tarnish the image of the church.

Delivering judgment, Ochimana said that the prosecution had sufficiently established a case of criminal defamation punishable under Section 392 of the Penal Code against the accused. "I therefore make my findings that the prosecution has sufficiently established a case of criminal defamation against the accused and found him guilty of the charge an d accordingly convict him of the said offence," the chief magistrate ruled.