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Freedom of Speech vs Online Defamation – A Slippery Slope

The recent arrest of Stanley Okoruwa for defaming businessman Emeka Okonkwo, popularly known as 'E-Money,' serves as a stark reminder of the legal and ethical responsibilities that accompany freedom of expression, especially in the digital age. Okoruwa’s actions—publishing false accusations to boost online traffic—constitute a severe breach of both legal and moral standards.

As a human rights advocate, I am deeply disturbed by Okoruwa’s conduct. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right, but it is not an absolute license to spread falsehoods that can damage reputations and lives. The Nigerian Constitution and the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act 2015 provides clear legal frameworks against defamation and cyberbullying. Okoruwa’s baseless allegations against E-Money and his involvement in the death of Nollywood actor John Odonwodo are not just defamatory but also malicious, intending to tarnish his reputation unjustly.

Content creators and social media users must understand that the virtual space is not a lawless frontier. The anonymity and reach of the internet do not shield one from legal repercussions. Okoruwa’s case highlights the serious legal implications of defamation—arrest, prosecution, and potential civil liabilities.
Recently, Okoruwa made a public apology towards the victims while facing prosecution by authorities for cyberbullying and defamation of character, reported Nigerian Tribune.

It is urgent that all content creators understand the responsibility that comes with their freedom of expression. The lure of online fame and increased traffic should not come at the expense of truth and integrity. Fabricating stories for clicks not only disrespects the individuals involved but also undermines the trust and reliability of digital media.

This incident should serve as a strong warning: defamatory content has real-world consequences. Uphold the principles of honesty and respect in all online engagements. The law is vigilant, and justice will not overlook those who misuse the power of their platforms to harm others.

Let us strive to build an online community rooted in truth, respect, and accountability.



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