QUALIFIED PRIVILEGE: What the defence of qualified privilege entails
"On what constitutes the defense of qualified privilege the need to rely on the learned Author of GATELY ON LIBEL AND SLANDER 8TH EDITION at paragraph 441, cannot once again be overemphasized. Here, the position of the law on qualified privilege is stated as follows: "There is an occasion upon which, on grounds of public policy and convenience, a person may, without incurring legal liability, make statement about another which are defamatory and in fact untrue. On such occasion, a man stating what he believes to be true about another, is protected in so doing, provided he makes the statement honestly and without any indirect or improper motive. These occasions are called occasions of qualified privileged for the protection which the law, on groups of public policy, affords is not absolute but depends on the honesty of the purpose with which the defamatory statement is made." It is important to note that from the text cited here above the conditions for the application of the defense of qualified privilege are as follows:
1. The Appellant must state what he believes to be true of the Respondent at the time he made the publication.
2. He must make the publication honestly, without any indirect or improper motive.
3. The honesty of the purpose with which the defamatory statement is made by the Appellant (publisher) must be glaring and not doubtful.
See the case of FIRST BANK OF NIGERIA PLC vs. ABOKO (2006) ALL FWLR (PT. 301) 1897 where this Court held that for a plea of qualified privilege to apply, the communication must be made "bona-fide, honestly and without any direct or indirect motive, and the publication must not be actuated by malice". In EMEAGWARA vs. STAR PRINTING AND PUBLISHING CO. LTD (2000) 5 SCNJ 115 AT 185 the apex Court held that for: "A report to be privileged it must be fair and accurate. What is stated must be substantial and fair comment of what occurred to earn a defense of privilege." The position of the Supreme Court is that the defense of qualified privilege will avail a Defendant if there is a common interest between the maker of the statement complained of and the person to whom it was made. That is what the apex Court referred to as: "reciprocity of interest". See the case of MAMMAN vs. SALAUDEEN (2005) 18 NWLR (PT. 958) 511 PARA C in this connection."
Per OHO, J.C.A. IN NNAJI & ORS v. IWUEKE (2018) LPELR-44043(CA)