Some of your acts cause panic, instant trauma – Senior lawyer warns online pranksters


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A human rights lawyer, Jiti Ogunye SAN has warned online pranksters to shun acts capable of causing trauma to victims of their pranks or risk getting sued.

The senior lawyer said this in a Monday statement.

Ogunye said that while the pranksters’ aim might be to grow their social media following while entertaining members of the public, they must realise that their pranks could endanger life.

He said that victims of their pranks could sue the pranksters for violation of privacy, infringement of right to dignity of human person, and negligence.

According to him, the pranksters could also be subject of criminal proceedings in some circumstances.

Ogunye’s statement read, ”To all the social media pranksters playing pranks on unsuspecting members of the public to entertain Nigerians and possibly drive their social media following, kindly be informed that your acts, stunts and mischief could endanger life. You may imagine, indeed believe, that you are a part of the creative industry, using your talents to entertain and educate. You may even consider yourselves as street comedians, in a digital age, engaging in an art form reminiscent of the roving, town-town theatre of old, making people smile and laugh. Momentarily upset and angry even.

“You must accept, however, that some of your acts cause panic and instant trauma.They could occasion unexpected damage to health or sudden death, especially for those who may have hypertension or  cardiac-related preconditions.

“The victims of your action could maintain a civil action against you , for not only violating their privacy but also infringing on their right to the dignity of human person by subjecting them to mental torture or agony. They could also sue you in negligence. As a citizen, you owe fellow citizens a duty of care by conducting yourself in a manner that does not pose danger to another. If , in breach of that duty , there is a resultant damage to the health or wellbeing of another , and that damage is not remote , but specific and flows directly from your act , you may be liable to pay damages to your victims. In law , the category of negligence is never closed .

“In case of any untoward development arising directly from your pranks, causing manslaughter, murder or any other harm occasioning bodily injury (criminal offences), be informed that your lack of intention to harm or kill will not avail you as a criminal defence. That the head of your victim was like an egg which on a very slight application of force easily cracked whereas other heads in normal circumstances could have withstood the pressure, would not bail you out.The law will insist that you take your victims as you find them.”

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