By Ola Kosoko
IF in doubt, leave out is one of the guiding principles of journalism practice across the globe. The principle was borne out of the fact that journalism being a very sensitive practice needed to be handled with a lot of caution by practitioners. No doubt, this is the reason journalism is referred to as the fourth estate of the realm, next after the legislature, executive and judiciary.
Consequently, Journalists are saddled with the onerous task of information dissemination and expected to handle their jobs professionally by holding government accountable. Unfortunately, some people masquerading as professionals are fast making a mockery of the profession by throwing caution to the wind in the discharge of their duties.
Not that one is saying that Journalists generally are not doing their job the way it ought to be done, but the fact remains that some vultures have invaded the industry and pressing the panic button unchecked.
These people without checking their facts rush to the press without establishing the veracity of claims in their stories or articles. Meanwhile, a thorough, painstaking investigation could have been carried out on the job to unravel the truth or otherwise of what they have. This is what makes people respect some professionals and some media organisations because of the reputation they have built for themselves as impeccable sources of information.
Indeed, it is rather painful that some media professionals who were at the forefront of getting the military out of power in Nigeria are fast turning into a tool in the hands of blackmailers as almost everybody with an android phone can publish without formal training. These are people whose job is phoney activism and they go after anybody they feel they can latch on for obvious reasons.
To say that charlatans have since taken over a movement where the likes of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, the late Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti, the late Dr. Tai Solarin, the late Chima Ubani, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN; Chief Olisa Agbakoba, SAN; etc., once held sway is a sad reminder how far we have degenerated as a nation.
Ask the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa what his experience has been in the hands of these people and you will definitely get a handful. Obasa must have seen the worst in terms of character assassinations going by the loads of frivolous allegations levelled against him by these so-called activists. Their motive most times is for pecuniary gains as evidence has shown that they are only out to make money.
Usually, their strategy is to reach out to their prey through contacts close to them, and in event that they are unable to get what they want, their next line of action is a petition to the EFCC. Indeed, if the number of petitions that have been written against Obasa in the last few years were true, how come the anti-graft agency has not invited him for once?
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The plot is to get the Speaker out by desperate politicians who are hell bent on removing him through the back door having failed, in all lawful attempts to do so. Thankfully, the EFCC does not act if there is no reasonable cause of action.
A self-contradictory petition laced with unsupportable, unsubstantiated, doctored or manipulated documents cannot precipitate a responsible agency into action. It is only laughable that a petition will claim invitation cards which were printed with N1.3 million was alleged to have been printed for a whooping N258 million when the whole event, including invitation cards cost N61 million. These agents of some political interests who already know that they have since failed are desperate to force the anti-graft agency to act on a frivolous petition which is as good as dead on arrival.
How come the dust raised recently in the House of Assembly did not consume Obasa, even as over ninety percent of members stuck with him while the dust lasted. This is a parliament consisting of some of the best brains in and around the state and who have displayed capacity in the performance of their duties. What this means is that the Speaker is leading distinguished people from varied backgrounds who cannot be led by the nose.
In Obasa’s case, the latest petition against him by a so-called pro-democracy group, Concerned Nigerians, whose leaders are politically inclined and were known to have fought themselves openly over monetary inducement when they initially operated with a well-known musician is nothing but hog wash. One can, therefore, safely conclude that these people are only out for persecution and not prosecution. Worse still, a certain medium titled it as “Obasa got N80 million as estacode to attend women leadership programme.”
According to the medium, the group is asking the EFCC to investigate and prosecute Obasa for alleged corruption and mismanagement. The group which based its petition on a report by an online newspaper accused the Speaker of illegally collecting several millions of naira for a Christmas party that allegedly never held and printing of invitation cards for inauguration of lawmaker’s months after the event held, among others.
While not speaking for the lawmaker, this writer makes bold to say that virtually everything said by this group is nothing but lies from the pits of hell. Even one of the paragraphs from the petition is at variance with the title of the petition which says “Obasa got N80 million from estacode to attend women leadership programme” to buttress this point.
This is nothing but another attempt to ridicule, malign and discredit the hardworking young man. According to the group: “19 lawmakers led by Obasa and Sanni went for a women leadership programme and received N80 million as estacode after returning from the programme”.
Is this quote not an attestation that the N80 million estacode, if it ever exists, cannot be singularly or directly linked to the Speaker? In one breath, the petition is accusing somebody of something and in another, it is exonerating the same man of the allegation. Even the so-called printing of invitation cards for members’ inauguration two months after the event held is nothing but a tissue of lies. Traditional rulers across the state were given invitation cards and were at the event in their numbers.
The Lagos State House of Assembly under the leadership of Obasa is said to operate an open door policy, and genuine rights activists, the media, artisans and other stakeholders can attest to this. This brings to the fore the need to sanitise the human rights community and the media to help the institutions regain their lost glory as prominent Nigerians, including former Vice President, Namadi Sambo, former Senate Deputy President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and others have become victims of fake whistleblowers who are ready to bring the nation to her knees for personal interest .
For Obasa, the fact that he has done tremendously well by making the Lagos parliament a reference point in the country and even beyond is not in doubt. Such achievements which include the anti-land grabbing law has been replicated in many states. The greater challenge for Speaker Obasa and his colleagues is to up the ante of legislative excellence for the good of Lagosians by refusing to be distracted by political mercenaries.
Kosoko, a journalist, wrote from Lagos.