Trader Sues Saraki, Atiku, Others Over Unauthorised Use of Photographs on Campaign Billboards
A Lagos-based trader, Mrs .Amuda Adeleke, has instituted a suit before a Federal High Court, Lagos, against the former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who was the Director-General of the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation during the 2019 General Election, for using her pictures on campaign billboards without her consent.
Joined in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/./193/ 2019 were the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), the party’s presidential flag bearer and his Vice, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr Peter Obi.
The trader, Amuda, in the suit filed by her counsel, Kingsley Iheakaram, is claiming the the sum of N45 million from the respondents jointly and severally as compensation for the unlawful , unauthorised and unconstitutional use of her image by the respondents.
The applicant is also seeking for an order of the court directing the immediate withdrawal and destruction of the campaign materials containing her unauthorised images anywhere within and outside Nigeria.
She is also seeking a court declaration that the unauthorised use, publication and display of her image as advertisement by Saraki as head of the Atiku, Obi Presidential Campaign Organisation constitute a breach and infringement of her fundamental right, to privacy as enshrined, guaranteed and provided for in the 1999 Constitution.
The applicant in an affidavit in support of the Originating Motion by the Plaintiff’s counsel Mr Kingsley Iheakaram averred that sometimes on December 4, 2018, the agents of the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation (AACO) under the leadership of Dr. Bukola Saraki led a campaign on behalf of Atiku and Obi to Oyin Jolayemi Street Victoria Island, Lagos, to draw support for the candidacy of Atiku and Obi in the 2019 presidential race.
It was further averred that in the course of the campaign, AACO and and Saraki began to personally engage the individuals, traders entrepreneurs and other citizens on the said street including the plaintiff on their expectations in respect of the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
The plaintiff said that during the interactive engagement, most of the individuals in the locality of the campaign including herself pledged support for Atiku and Obi due to the harsh economic situation in the country.
She further stated that during the interaction Saraki and his agents took photographs without informing her that they were going to put them to any use and that she did not think much of it , thinking the first respondent took the picture just to commemorate the event.
Adeleke said that it was afterwards that she started seeing her pictures being used on campaign Bill Boards both in Lagos, Abuja and other places in the county while people started calling her from different places.
She added that sequel to the infringement on her privacy, she had to take time to explain to friends, relatives and well wishers who had been inundating her with calls of the true state of affairs in regard to the unauthorised display of her image on billboards.
The plaintiff said all her friends who saw the advert said it portrayed her as a woman stricken by poverty who had lost all hope and was prepared to commit suicide.
However the respondent in their counter affidavit to the suit, while they all denied some of the plaintiff’s averement, said the Atiku and Obi did not meet the plaintiff physically or in any other manner in the course of their campaign in Lagos State and neither took snapshot or photograph with her.
The defendants stated that all matters of electronic/billboards campaigns were contracted out to Messrs AHC Production Limited and so she was contacted and interviewed by that company.
The first and second defendants said they were informed by Mr Tokunbo Omulekulo of the said AHC Productions Limited at the PDP office in Abuja that the name of the applicant is not Mrs Amuda Adeleke, but Tope Olukolu with GSM phone number 08035059775 which is the name she gave to Tokunbo Omulekulo during the interview as contain in the consent agreement she signed with AHC Productions Limited.
The Defendants added that the applicant was so excited about this possibility of a change of government that can restore economic stability and guarantee the security of life and properties and generally make Nigeria to work again as represented by Atiku and Obi.
That the applicant, his friends and neighbours knew that their pictures were going to be used for electronic campaigns for Atiku and Obi and that each person’s used for the electronic campaigns advertisement were dully paid and made to sign an agreement before their photographs and names were used.
The defendants added that the action of the plaintiff it’s a clear case of goal digging because when the electronic billboards advertisement were going on, the applicant called Mr Tokunbo Omulekulo and asked for more money to be given because the advert was more than what she expected.
The defendants therefore urged the court to dismiss the case against them
Meanwhile, Justice Ayokunle Faji has adjourned the matter till January 27, 2020 for trial.