The Ogun State High Court sitting in Ota, on Thursday, dismissed the assault charges brought against Bishop David Oyedepo, the multi billionaire founder of the Living Faith Church International.
Justice Mobolaji Ojo, the presiding judge, while describing the applicant, Robert Igbinedion’s, applications as “lacking in merit”; added that the court cannot act on “ghost victims.”
He also told Mr. Igbinedion to pay the sum N20,000 to Bishop Oyedepo.
In his ruling, Justice Ojo said that Mr. Igbinedion, in his applications, did not claim to have attended the church service in which the young lady was slapped.
Also, the applicant did not claim that he was told by someone who attended the service or state the date the incident happened.
The judge struck out the applications.
“There must be an allegation by the victim whose right was violated,” said Justice Ojo.
“It is such a person that has the right of action…
“My respectful opinion is that where the course of action is exercised by a person other than the victim…
“It follows that in all cases, the owner of the identity must be available to the court. He must not be amorphous.
“Who is Miss Justice? How is she?… The court must be able to ascertain and not be left to speculate on the identity.”
The judge also struck out the applicant’s prayer to the court to award N2billion against Bishop Oyedepo.
“If I may ask, if this action succeeds, who is the beneficiary?”
Reacting to the ruling, David Olushola, one of the counsels to Bishop Oyedepo, described it as a “watershed judgment.”
“It is a landmark judgment. It shows that the judge have done a lot of work, researching into the depths of the case,” Mr. Olushola told PREMIUM TIMES outside the court.
“We had no doubts in our minds that the case will fail, ab initio there were no facts for the case.
“So the judge has only confirmed that he is a man that you can look up to.
“Apparently, the matter was out to discredit a very well known man of God, just to rubbish his name that he earned by a dint of hard work.”
Mr. Olushola added that they were expecting the applicant to file his appeal.
“We are prepared at any level to meet him. We have gotten the victory in the first leg, the second leg will be a walk over.”
Mr. Igbinedion said that the judge’s ruling was “according to his own belief.”
“But nonetheless, we are not deterred. This is not the final court. We still have the Court of Appeal as well as the Supreme Court which we intend to pursue the matter to,” Mr. Igbinedion said.
Mr. Igbinedion further said that Bishop Oyedepo’s victory was based on technicalities rather than merit.
“Tomorrow we are petitioning the police to arrest and prosecute Bishop David Oyedepo. The slap is a crime under the Nigerian law.”
Robert Igbinedion, a Lagos based lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of the young lady, had asked the court to award N2billion as ‘general and exemplary damages’ against the flamboyant pastor among other reliefs.
Mr. Oyedepo was named the richest pastor in Nigeria last year by Forbes magazine with an estimated worth of over N20billion.
During the hearing of the case, Dele Adesina, counsel to Bishop Oyedepo, had complained to the court that they did not have a photograph and the video where the Bishop slapped the young lady.
Mr. Adesina had argued that there was nothing to show that the young lady who was slapped in the video – who had been dubbed ‘Miss Justice’ in the course of the suit – is a living person.
“There is nothing to show in the application that ‘Miss Justice’ is a living and existing person entitled to claim under the provisions of the 1999 Constitution,” Mr. Adesina said.
“We humbly submit that ‘Miss Justice’ is a fictitious person, not capable of being represented in court.
“For the applicant to establish that he is suing on behalf of another person, that person must be determinable and identifiable,” he added.
On his part, Mr. Igbinedion asked the court to grant him all his reliefs since the respondents, in denying that the young lady was slapped, had failed to help the court arrive at justice.
“The respondents rather chose to lay their defence on all imaginable legal technicalities without attacking or denying the several damaging allegations,” said Mr. Igbinedion.