US Court Slams $50,000 on Blogger for Defaming MFM’s Dr. Olukoya
A Baltimore County Circuit Court in the United States of America presided over by Theresa Adams, has slammed a record $50,000 damages on a US-based Nigerian blogger, Funke Ashekun, for defaming the General Overseer, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM), Dr Daniel Olukoya.
A statement on Thursday by Olukoya’s media aide, Collins Edomaruse, said the jury found that the postings of Ashekun defamed the MFM and portrayed its pastors in a false light.
Delivering its judgment in the matter with Case Number: C-03-CV-22-004424, the court returned a unanimous verdict in favour of MFM USA and its three pastors, Grace Ugeh, Kunle Ladipo and Adekunle Adekola.
According to the MFM, Ashekun, who recently relocated to the United States, “has been on social media, spreading all manners of falsehoods against the MFM Church and its General Overseer with the sole purpose of tarnishing and damaging the reputation of the respected man of God and that of his ministry.”
Reacting to the lawsuit filed against her, the YouTuber, in a video she posted to her YouTube channel on November 28, 2023, said MFM and three of its US-based pastors filed a suit against her and accused her of defaming their General Overseer.
“I am now able to confirm to you and to formally do so now that I, Funke Ashekun, have been sued by a church in America. I want you to know I’ve been sued by a church in America. I’m also able to confirm that the name of the church that has taken me to court in America is Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, America.
“I am also able to confirm to you that I don’t know them, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Imagine, people that I don’t know are suing me. What an Irony!
“The first one is Adekunle Adekola. He’s a pastor in Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Rockville, Maryland. The second person is Kunle Ladipo. He is also a pastor in Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Bowie, Maryland. And the third person is a woman, I am surprised. She is Grace Ugeh. She is also a pastor in Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries in California; one of their branches.
“Somebody even came from California to sue me in Maryland. These are people I don’t know. I have never been to their church here in America since we relocated. I saw two of them in court recently. But I don’t think I will still recognise them if I meet two of them on the way. I am surprised how a woman will come after me for speaking against sexual assault on women,” she said.
Ashekun added that she was shocked about the lawsuit, stressing that she did not mention the name of any church or pastor in particular in any of her posts.
“I am talking about Pharaohs of our country. People that are supposed to be men of God; that people call men of God and reverence. I am talking about things going on in our churches, that there are sexual abuses going on in our churches. Women are becoming depressed. Some of them are becoming suicidal. They are being sexually molested seriously. And then a woman would come after me and take me to court for talking.
“I, also want to let you know that I, Olufunke Ashekun, am the respondent in this lawsuit in my personal capacity and to the exclusion of no other. These three people, they came after me. In fact, they came with two different lawsuits.
“One thing still shocks me, still baffles me that since I have started this programme, I have never mentioned the name of any church. When I talk about Pharaohs destroying women, destroying men, torturing, oppressing, sexually molesting women, young girls, even in the toilet, in church, inside what is supposed to be a sanctuary of God. Since I’ve started, I’ve never mentioned any church doing that.
“I’ve never mentioned the name of any pastor or any General Overseer. I have been talking about Pharaohs. Pharaoh is a Biblical name. We all know Pharaoh to be an oppressor of God’s children. It is a satirical name that I formed for this programme to pass all my messages because we need to speak out. We can’t keep quiet and allow these people to go on in our society,” she said.
Reacting to the judgment, the MFM lead counsel, Gilbert Garcia, said the “Church was gratified that the jury found in favor and vindicated our position,” according to the statement.