The law of defamation is an arm of the law of tort. The law of tort generally operates to guide, regulate and direct the order of human interaction. Law of tort arises from a breach of duty owed towards persons generally and redressible by an action for unliquidated damages . The law of tort has developed over the years through Common Law; in certain instances, some aspects of the law of torts have even been codified.
God created man with the innate ability to express feelings and emotions, and to protect his name and reputation. Such expressions may be by way of writing, spoken words, signs, works of art, gestures or imagery. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) also provides for the freedom of persons to communicate freely. However, such freedom to express oneself must be regulated.
The unregulated or uninhibited right to express may exceed the bound contemplated by law and may cause social problems. Regulations and checks in this regard perfectly fall within the ambit of what is termed the Law of Defamation. This law recognizes the right of each man to the unimpaired enjoyment of his reputation and good name, to an extent that “he who therefore directly communicates to the mind of another matter untrue and which substantially disparages the reputation of another is guilty of a legal wrong” .
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