Court declines IBD Dende’s request to stop Fisayo Soyombo, FIJ from publishing reports about him

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A federal high court in Abuja has declined the request of Ibrahim Egungbohun, a businessman, seeking to compel Fisayo Soyombo, founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), from publishing further reports about him.

Egungbohun, popularly known as IBD Dende, filed a suit against Soyombo, an investigative journalist, and FIJ, over an undercover report.

In February 2024, Soyombo published an undercover investigation titled ‘Undercover as a smuggler’, on the website of FIJ.

In the report, Soyombo revealed how he attempted to illegally import 100 bags of rice from the Republic of Benin into Nigeria to prove the porous nature of the country’s borders.


The journalist highlighted how he transported the bags of rice without resistance from security operatives after using information provided by some officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

In the report, Soyombo described IBD Dende as the “biggest smuggler” in Ilaro, a town in Ogun state.

He also published a video where IBD Dende was threatening to kill a customs officer during an altercation.


Angered by the investigative report, IBD Dende filed a defamation suit against Soyombo, FIJ, and Arise Group after the television station broadcast the documentary.

At the resumed hearing on July 2, Binta Mohammed, the judge of the federal capital territory (FCT) high court, listened to the application for interlocutory injunction for an order to restrain the defendants from further defamatory publications against him.


In his written argument, the counsel of IBD Dende averred that the first and second defendants consistently defamed and maligned the character of his client.


The counsel claimed that Soyombo published statements about IBD Dende as recently as June 3, while the case was before the court.

The counsel said the investigative journalist is subjecting his client to a social media trial.

He averred that it had become imperative for the court to grant an injunction to halt the “continuous and daily defamatory publications” against the person of the claimant, pending the final determination of the suit.

The counsel said the right to freedom of expression under the constitution does not permit any journalist to defame a character.


On the video published by Soyombo, the counsel argued that the video was nothing more than a “verbal altercation” with customs officers.

The counsel said it cannot be concluded from the video that the incident was about smuggled goods belonging to IBD Dende.


He added that his client is a licensed customs clearing and forwarding agent, whose job it is to provide assistance to get goods transported into and out of Nigeria.

In the written argument submitted on behalf of Soyombo and FIJ, the counsel argued that the press is duty-bound to expose wrongdoing.


The counsel said the press must not be subjected to censorship or curtailed.

The FIJ counsel argued that IBD Dende, who had admitted under oath to assaulting law enforcement agencies, did not deserve an equitable relief of injunction to restrain the press.


The counsels closed their arguments, and the court reserved the ruling on the application for interlocutory injunction for a later date to be communicated to the parties.

Soyombo and FIJ have also filed a defence to the main suit, along with a list of witnesses to be invited to testify.

The witnesses include one Rotimi Awoyemi, the customs officer who was allegedly threatened in the video published by FIJ; Bashir Adewale Adeniyi (MFR), comptroller-general of customs; and Hussein Ejigbunu, whom IBD Dende reportedly mentioned in the viral video.

IBD Dende also listed two witnesses: himself and Oba Akintunde Akinyemi, the traditional ruler of Iselu, Yewa north LGA, whose written statement on oath was filed in support of the statement of claim.

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