In a landmark judgment, Peter Ekemezie, a former lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, has been sentenced to six months in prison for disseminating defamatory comments on Facebook targeting Prof. Alex Asigbo.
Ekemezie faced a three-count charge encompassing forgery and defamation. While the court handed down a six-month imprisonment, it also provided an alternative for Ekemezie to pay a fine of N300,000.
Presiding over the case at the Awka Magistrates’ Court, His Worship E.C. Chukwu underscored that he had factored in Ekemezie’s one-month stay in a psychiatric facility and four months in a Correctional Centre during the sentencing.
During the trial, Prof. Alex Asigbo testified that Ekemezie had forged his signature after Asigbo had declined to provide Ekemezie with a witness statement, advising instead to obtain a subpoena.
Asigbo recounted how this event led Ekemezie to unleash a barrage of defamatory statements against him on social media platforms, notably Facebook.
While questions arose regarding Ekemezie’s true identity and his status as a Unizik lecturer, conflicting reports emerged.
However, Emmanuel Ojukwu, the Media Adviser to the Vice Chancellor of the institution, confirmed Ekemezie’s departure from the university years prior.
Ojukwu clarified, “He left the services of UNIZIK several years ago due to inadequacies in degrees.
There were several loopholes in his credentials, and his case was brought before the Council, resulting in his dismissal. Prior to that, he was associated with the Department of Chemistry.”
The verdict serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of defamation in the digital age, prompting a reevaluation of responsible online conduct and the boundaries of freedom of speech.
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