Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka on Monday in Lagos decried the rising cases of stolen human identities, highlighting the allegation of President Muhammadu Buhari being cloned and various Facebook impersonations
Soyinka, who decried the development at the 70th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, organised by the Wole Soyinka Foundation in conjunction with Freedom Park, said human right should include right to identity.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the anniversary was tagged: “Worldwide Reading for Freedom of the Press in Memories of Jamal Khashoggi”.
Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian journalist, General Manager and Editor-in-Chief of Al-Arab News Channel who was assassinated at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 2 by agents of the Saudi Government.
The playwright, who noted that beside the protection of right to freedom of expression, there was the need for right to protect a person’s identity from being stolen.
Soyinka, who condemned his identity impersonation on Facebook, said that if he were to suggest for the revision of the UN Charter on Human Rights, he would add that “everyone has right not to have his or her identity stolen”.
According to him, the problem of identity has made someone to be impersonating him as a store keeper on Facebook.
“This is a fundamental human right. Today, we have a situation where a President is said to be not his own identity. That’s is a very serious one. And we have people who actually take this serious.
“This appears to me as a recent Nigerian centre of stolen identity right now,” Soyinka said.
According to him, the media has responsibilities to assume as part of its mission for the nation to have maximum integrity, the issue of identity of expressions.
“This is beyond Facebook, we are talking about individuals having their attribution by their identity.
He added that in Croatia, a certain Nigerian whose address was Poland, running a Facebook in his name, and describing Soyinka as a shop keeper on Facebook.
Soyinka said that the impersonator had gone so far to obtain contract in his name and had ordered for books, adding that such was a very dangerous situation.
“If we are going to continue to fight for freedom of expression, we must make sure we fight for correct attribution of expressions.
“I have made statements about the next elections which I’m never aware of, but that have been done in my name. We need not just freedom of expression but also the integrity of freedom of expression,” Soyinka said.
Soyinka said that event and its theme was to show solidarity with Khashoggi as a memorial for him.
The poet, who highlighted the events that led to the death of the journalist, said it spoke a lot about the dilemma and the condition of media practitioners today.
Reading one of his yet to be published peoms, Soyinka portrayed the plights of the Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu in captivity and called for their freedom.
Also, Mr Kunle Ajibade, Deputy Editor of the News, who read one of the investigative articles of Khashoggi about Saudi government said: “When one of us is treated this way, it behoves all of us to rise in solidarity to affirm our own humanity in this way.
“We need to voice out and call out for those who killed Khashoggi,” Ajibade said.
Several participants read various works of Khashoggi where he was criticising the Saudi government for centralising all power, illegal arrests, corruption, unemployment, kickbacks, mismanagement and selective justice among others.
Mr Folu Agol, President, Pen International Nigerian Centre, also read a short piece from one of Khashoggi’s essays where he frowned at intolerance.
Mrs Motunrayo Alaka, Coordinator, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, said that journalists had been going through so many hazards while carrying out their duties in the country.
“It is not the media business to make the government look good but to make them accountable. We need to make species (journalists) unendangered,” she said.
The event saw the reading of all articles of the UN Human Rights Charter as they affect the case of Khashoggi.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a historic document that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its third session on Dec. 10, 1948 as Resolution 217 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France.