U.S. Based Nigerian Model Slams N97m Suit On Bank For Passing Off

Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos has commerced hearing in the N97 millions suit filed against  Wema Bank Plc by a 22- years-old Nigerian model, based in United States of America (USA), Nneoma Anosike for allegedly using her picture for commercial  purpose without authorisation.

The plaintiff, Anosike  sued the bank through her lawful attorney,  Frank Anosike who is also her father, alleged that on April 11, 2016, the defendant  used her picture for commercial  purpose in a social network, called 'Instagram' without her consent or authorisation from the management  of Ford Models Inc, a company in USA which she had agreement to manage her career as a model.

Among the prayers of the plaintiff before the court are; an order directing  the defendant to pay her the sum of N 75, 000, 000 for allegedly passing off her services.

An oder of injunction restraining the defendant from passing off or causing /enabling others to pass off her professional services;
A declaration  that the plaintiff is entitled to her privacy and the privacy of her correspondence, under Section  37 of the 1999 constitution
An order directing to pay her the sum of N 20, 000, 000 for the breach of her privacy by advertising  her private correspondence.

An order directing the bank to write a letter of apology to her, and to publish the written apology in two national dallies in USA and another two in Nigeria. Besides,Miss Anosike  also demanded for sum of two millions  naira as special damages cost of filing the suit.

According  to the statement of claims attached to the suit, the plaintiff  claimed that she is reputable and international model who had won many laurels within and outside  the country, she averred that among the competitions she won in Nigeria was  'Elite Model Look', 2013.

Adding that based on her reputation, in 2014, Pepsi-Cola Nigeria made her its brand ambassador for Aquafina Water.

The  plaintiff averred  that her contract with  Ford Models Inc, the company that took her to USA, is for period of  three years and prior  to the advert of the defendant which used her as their model, the American company  was already negotiating  with her on how renew the contract.

On April 11, 2016 , the management of Ford Models summoned  her to a meeting  on April 12, 2016 and in the meeting  she was presented  with  her photographic  advert procured from account  of the defendant on Instagram. She alleged that the defendant mutilated and photo edited her professional photograph for the said advert and advertised it on the World Wide Web.
And based on the action of the the bank, the defendant  had breach the contractual  agreement between her and the American company, alleged that the bank had jeopardized her chance of contract extention with Ford Models Inc.

However, the defendant in its Statement of Defence, averred that the bank was neither a party nor privy to any of the alleged modelling  contract  of the plaintiff  with any third  party.

The defendant averred that the picture in question, was on social media before it was sourced for it online weekly motivational and educational series via social media, intended purely to inspire  young online users.
The bank denied using the plaintiff's picture for any advertisement purposes  or for any commercial gain but purely for free educational  purpose under its Corporate Social Responsibility  programme.

The court had adjourned further hearing in the matter till June 15.

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