A United States District Court in California has struck out a case entered by the General Overseer of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Dr Daniel Olukoya, against a Nigerian blogger, Maureen Badejo, over alleged defamation.
The US Court in the case Number 20-cv-08001-HSG gave an order “denying motion for default judgment” and it dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.
According to the court documents, the Olukoya’s case is a state law defamation case against Defendant Maureen Badejo, a foreign national “who appears to be a Nigerian citizen and resides in the United Kingdom.”
“The plaintiffs (Olukoya) filed a motion for entry of default on February 3, 2021, and entry of default was noticed by the Clerk on February 4, 2021. At the initial case management conference on February 16, 2021, the Court expressed to Plaintiffs’ counsel concern that the Court lacked subject matter and personal jurisdiction over this matter.
“The Counsel responded that he would consult with his clients to either file a notice of dismissal or a motion for default judgment that set out the basis for the Court to exercise jurisdiction.
“On March 9, 2021, a letter from Ms. Badejo was entered into the docket in which she stated that she is a permanent resident of the United Kingdom and that she disputes the Court’s jurisdiction over her. Plaintiffs filed the currently pending motion for default judgment,” the court document reads.
In the judgment delivered on May 6, the US District judge, Haywood Gilliam, stated that the plaintiffs’ (Olukoya and MFM) motion for default judgment is denied and the case is dismissed.
The judge said, “In determining whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant is proper, a district court must apply the law of the state in which it sits when there is no applicable federal statute governing personal jurisdiction. District courts in California may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant to the extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.
“The party seeking to invoke jurisdiction has the burden of establishing that jurisdiction exists. Here, Plaintiffs offer no argument that the Court has general personal jurisdiction over Defendants and allege no facts to establish that Defendants’ contacts with California are ‘substantial’ or ‘continuous and systematic.’ Plaintiffs allege only that Ms. Badejo is a Nigerian-born blogger who resides in the United Kingdom; that she operates an online news site, Defendant Gio TV, with an emphasis on Nigeria; and that this online news site is accessible on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
“Their allegations are insufficient to establish general personal jurisdiction over Defendants. Plaintiffs thus fail to show that Defendants directly targeted California with their conduct and therefore cannot satisfy the express-aiming element of the Calder effects test, which is required to establish the first element of the Ninth Circuit’s test for the exercise of personal jurisdiction.
“Accordingly, the Court finds that it lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendants. Conclusion – Because the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendants, Plaintiffs’ motion for default judgment is denied, and the case is dismissed. The Clerk is directed to terminate the case. It is so ordered.”
SaharaReporters had on April 14, 2021, reported that a UK court had granted a perpetual injunction restraining Badejo, a Nigerian blogger who made allegations against the church, from publishing further defamatory words against or concerning the General Overseer, Olukoya, his family and the church at large.
Last year, Badejo was accused of using her social media channels to blackmail Olukoya and his church on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
She claimed that Olukoya and his church, the claimants, duped the United States Government by selling his books in the US without paying due tax.
She also alleged that a pastor from MFM in the UK paid £150,000 into the personal account of Mr Olukoya and then went to Nigeria to meet the cleric so he could help him cover up his fraud.
In February 2021, an Ogun State High Court ordered Badejo to pay ₦500 million to the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM) and its General Overseer, Olukoya, for defamation.
Abiodun Akinyemi, while delivering the judgment, also ordered Badejo, the proprietor of Gio TV, to pull down and erase the offending online publications concerning the claimants from the internet.
The judge further ordered the blogger to tender a written apology and retraction of the offending publications prominently on social media and at least three national dailies.