Alleged Rape: Libel Suit Against Former Nairalander, Sugabelly, Dismissed In The US
A lawsuit against former Nairalander, Lotanna Igwe Odunze, better known as Sugabelly, has been dismissed with prejudice.
Sugabelly was quite popular on Nairaland’s Art & Graphics Section where she drew people and sold her sketches and phone cases and also on the Culture Section where she discussed Igbo culture. I also remember her epic battle with another Nairalander over Big Brother Africa shower hour in 2009. She deactivated her Nairaland account c2014.
She was also very famous/infamous on Nigerian Twitter. She had quite a lot of enemies on Twitter and she trended almost every weekend.
Her enemies hated her because
1) She once said that she went 3 weeks without bathing (because she was at NYSC orientation camp). Citizens of other countries that were engaged in twit fights with Nigerians used this claim as an example to show that Nigerians are dirty.
2) She claimed that she learnt HTML and CSS and how to code a website at age 9 in 1998. Her enemies claimed that this was a lie because CSS was only released in 1996 and registered for use in 1998. They claimed that she could not have learnt CSS & HTML at age 9 in Nigeria in 1998.
3) She further angered a lot of people when she posted a list of “Poverty Stricken People”. The list contained the names of some of the most popular people on Nigerian Twitter.
Sugabelly had previously alleged that she had been raped, but her allegations did not trend on Twitter until 2015.
Prince Abubakar Audu had twice been the governor of Kogi State from January 1992 until November 1993 and the second from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2003. He was running for governor again in 2015 on the platform of the APC.
In 2015 Sugabelly tweeted a heartfelt appeal to Nigerians not to vote for Abubakar Audu. She said that Audu’s sons and their friends had serially raped her in 2007 when she was 17 and that members of that kind of family do not deserve to be elected into positions of authority. She mentioned Mustapha Audu and Abdul Ogohi (son of former Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ogohi) as the ring leaders in the alleged rape. Here is her blog containing her allegations.
“Surviving Mustapha Audu, and his Rape Brigade” by Sugabelly
Nigerian Twitter caught fire after she twitted her allegations. Some Twitter users sympathised with her, but others, particularly her many enemies, used it as an opportunity to attack her. Here are some of the Nairaland threads about the allegations.
How Abubakar Audu’s Sons Serially Raped A Young Girl Years Back.
Email Exchange Between Sugabelly And Mustapha Audu
Sugabelly Alleged Rape: A Pure Case Of Blackmail, Intimidation And Lies
Even Oby Ezekwesili’s Sons Know I Am Not A Rapist, Mustapha Audu Tells His Story
Oby Ezekwesili Tweets About Sugabelly
In 2017 Mustapha Audu sued Sugabelly for libel in the United States (where she lives) and the court eventually dismissed the charges with prejudice. Costs were also awarded to Sugabelly. Sugabelly has not tweeted since May 2017.
The former Chairman of the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu, tweeted about the case.
Chidi Odinkalu @ChidiOdinkalu
A little over 10 yrs ago, a teenage girl began keeping electronic diaries of harrowing sexual abuse. This later broke onto #Nigeria’s social media. She was known as @sugabelly. Many ppl did not believe her. Today, I’d like to tell a little story I call #SugabellyVindicated
When it began, she was 17. The chief culprits, who were 1 decade older than her or more were the sons of 2 #Nigerian big men – a state Governor & an Admiral who led the military. The allegations looked too detailed to be made up, surely too serious to ignore #SugabellyVindicated
While some showed her empathy, she also received unspeakable nastiness & abuse form ppl who forgot, as @damiodiachi rightly pointed out, that “it’s hard to believe that she wld embrace a country’s worth of cyber-bullying for fame.” (link: #SugabellyVindicated
One disinterested person, @damiodiachi, took the trouble of disinterring this tale of three years’ worth of sexual and concluded that @sugabelly was very credible #SugabellyVindicated
On social media, however, @sugabelly was set upon, finally being forced off this space by abuse of that no one shd be subjected to. Having survived sexual abuse, she became the victim of cyber-abuse. Those who physically abused her became her cyber-traducers #SugabellyVindicated
In June 2017, 1 of the persons whom @sugabelly had named as her rapist, Mustapha Audu, son of former Kogi state Governor, Abubakar Audu, filed a suit in the courts in Washington DC, USA against her for libel because she clearly said he was a rapist #SugabellyVindicated
In his suit against @sugabelly, Mustapha Audu, who joined his younger brother, Bashir as plaintiff, claimed the allegations of rape were false. He asked for damages, jury trial & injunctions. The young woman cld have been ruined….
Once issues were joined, Mustapha Audu’s case began to unravel. Earlier this year, the court dismissed his case with prejudice, requiring him to pay all the costs of @sugabelly
Essentially, as @damiodiachi suspected over 3 yrs ago, @sugabelly was both right & credible. Mustapha Audu committed rape. This rapist tried to use judicial attrition to export his #Nigeria impunity to the USA. This courageous young woman stopped him. #SugabellyVindicated
Appeals are no longer available against the court decision dismissing Mustapah Audu’s spurious case againt @sugabelly. So, the decision is now final & the vindication of @sugabelly is judicially confirmed – Mustapha Audu is a rapist #SugabellyVindicated