The former President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, has taken legal action against afrobeat musician, David Adeleke popularly known as Davido, accusing the artiste of cyberbullying and defamation of character.
Mr Pinnick said Davido made incendiary posts against him on social media in October adding that since then, his life and that of his immediate family have been in grave danger and threat of physical bodily harm, injury and attacks.
The lawsuits followed altercations between the artist and Mr Pinnick in October after the musician failed to show up for an event he was paid to perform.
An investigation by Premium Times revealed how Davido’s company signed a performance agreement with BrownHill Event Inc, owned by Mr Pinnick, on March 30, 2023, committing the musician to performing in Warri on October 6.
The contract was signed by the musician’s agent, Soso Soberekon, indicating the singer would perform for at least “55 or 60 minutes at the event.” Victor Wokocha endorsed the agreement for Brownhill, while a certain Cecil Bekederemo signed as a witness.
However, the 30-year-old musician was absent from the Warri event because he fixed another show in Australia (Melbourne) on the same day, October 6.
After failing to attend the Warri show, Mr Pinnick addressed and apologised to the event attendees in Warri, explaining to them that all contractual obligations and payments to secure the attendance of the artist were met but he still failed to show up.
Not long after, Davido took to the social media handles of Instagram, Snapchat and X (formerly known as Twitter) to post several posts reacting to Mr Pinnick.
In one post on Instagram, Davido said: “If I am returning any money, I will return it to any football charity organisation. I will double it. Mr Dream Crusher imagine how many Nigerian footballers have had their dreams crushed because a person wants to live for Ikoyi by force,” he said, allegedly referring to Mr Pinnick, who served as the president of NFF for eight years.
In another post, the musician responded to a video saying, “The man that dropped from the RR is Amaju Pinnick. He was NFF president for just eight years.
He was charged for allegedly misappropriating $8.4 million paid by FIFA to NFF. I won’t mention allegations of unpaid allowances by players when he was the president. Let’s play a game.”
Mr Pinnick told a high court that these statements by Davido implied that the “former NFF president is a thief and is only able to live in Ikoyi because he crushed the dreams of several Nigerian footballers.”
“These defamatory publications and posts made by the artist when accorded their ordinary meaning portray me as a person deficient in character and integrity but also imbued with deceit, dishonesty, immoral, and fraudulent in the eyes of the right thinking members of the society,” he added.
The former NFF president went on to say due to the wide influence Davido has on social media, the singer has now subjected him to all forms of “cyberbullying, stalking, and harassment since the defamatory and incendiary posts.”
Mr Pinnick added that the singer posted the statements with the “aim of lowering the esteem of his person in the eyes of ordinary persons and generally bringing him to ridicule, derision and opprobrium.”
Why I wanted Davido to headline Warri Again show
In court documents seen by Premium Times, Mr Pinnick told the court that sometime in early 2023, Davido approached him to engage his services for the 19th edition of the “Warri Again” event that was held on 6th October 2023.
Mr Pinnick said he was hesitant to “engage the service of Davido because the musician had disappointed him in 2014 and 2019 editions of the “Warri Again” where the singer didn’t show up to perform after he had been paid for the events and he was compelled to make refunds thereafter.”
The FIFA Council Member said he believed the musician had turned into a “new leaf” so he decided to give him another chance. Mr Pinnick’s company, Brownhill Company Limited, entered into a performance agreement with the artist to perform as the headline artist of the 19th edition of Warri Again.
Mr Pinnick told the court that his company expended humongous resources on print and social media adverts for the event believing Davido would headline the annual show.
“Unfortunately, to the utmost humiliation and detriment of myself and my company, the artist willfully failed, neglected and refused to show up, attend and perform at the 19th edition of Warri Again,” Mr Pinnick said.
Davido, who broke onto the scene in 2011 had said he communicated to the organisers “months ago” that he would not be available. The singer added that “it’s a shame” they went ahead to continue promoting the show using his name.
Mr Pinnick told the court that “this statement is entirely false as Davido and his team never communicated or related such information to us.” Mr Pinnick said the singer did not even reply to a reminder letter sent to him on September 26, a week before the concert.
Instead, he said, the singer posted allegations that made him “suffer and endured severe irreparable reputational damages.”
Against this background, Mr Pinnick asked the court to compel Davido to publish on his “personal social media handles and in two national dailies APOLOGY to him for four consecutive days about the libellous statements about him.”
He also wants the court to restrain Davido or any of his agents from writing any false, malicious and unverified allegations against him.
Court documents show that a federal high court has granted Mr Pinnick an order to serve a writ of summons, statement of claim, and other accompanying processes as well as the Motion of Notice for Interlocutory injunction to the afrobeat singer.
The court also ordered “Davido to refrain from further posting, making and publishing any defamatory, derogatory, calumnious, and incendiary statement, story allegation and narrative about or against Mr Pinnick pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”
The motion on notice is fixed for November 23 at a high court in Delta State.
Brownhill Event sued Davido
Meanwhile, Mr Pinnick’s event centre, Brownhill, sued Davido for allegedly breaching the contract agreement.
The group said the musician had disappointed them in the 2014 and 2019 editions of the “Warri Again” where the singer did not show up to perform after he had been paid for the events. He was compelled to do a refund of payments he collected for both events.
For this reason and others, the group said, Davido has been in the “habit of reneging on contracts and not showing up and he is also known to cyberbully, harass, and threaten those who call him out on his excesses or when he reneges on paid engagements.”
Brownhill Event Centre is now asking the court to grant an order directing Davido to refund the N70 million paid to him on 6th April for the performance at the 19th edition of the Warri Again event held on 6th October.
They are also requesting a court order directing Davido to refund $18,000 paid to charter the private jet that was to personally convey the artist and his team to Warri for the 19th edition of the Warri Again event.
Also, the company wants an order compelling Davido to tender a public apology on all his social media handles and in two National Daily Newspapers for four consecutive days to the organisation and attendees of the Warri Again programme.
The firm asked the court to order Davido to give them N2 billion as “General Damages” for breach of the performance agreement entered between the artist and the company.