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Lekki, CNN And The Dance Of The Spirits – By Dele Collins

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In African cosmology, and in communities where the practice of voodooism is predominant and worshipped, the dance of the spirits is dreaded. On the night spirits decide to stage their festival in the world of darkness, those who have wronged the gods or committed abominable acts in the community relish the whole day in drabby mood. The carnival of dance of the spirits spares no culprit. It has no empathy for those who have incurred her wrath.

Therefore, the Lekki Toll Gate incident and its aftermath has invited the dance of the spirits. The action is already on course and the spirits are spiritedly haunting for the crafters, purveyors, promoters and disseminators of fake news on an imagined shooting and “massacre” of #EndSARS protesters at Lekki by soldiers. The spirits are after the masterminds of conjured and publicized offensive tales, wails and howls over imaginary bloodbath in the land, whilst the gods sighted none.

Apostles of fake news or junk journalism in Nigeria are the god’s greatest offenders. In 1996, a columnist with Washington Post, Robert J. Samuelson wrote a fascinating article on junk journalism titled “Junk Journalism 101.” In it, he aptly knocked junk journalism’s de-esteeming professional aura “… because it fails the basic test of journalistic integrity and competence: It does not strive for truthfulness, however impossible that ideal is to attain….”

Yet, in local parlance, others brand it as “Jakara” journalism, which entails the media’s repetition of fresh lies to cover old deceptions in a running story. The Cable News Network (CNN), the American based, international cable news station has consciously fallen into the pit of junk journalism while plying its trade in Nigeria.

Ideally, one would think, the CNN is peopled by hard-core professionals based on its international clout. Outwardly, one is tempted to believe there is every reason for the egghead media professionals in CNN to strive to heal the world with its reportage of global events, rather than render itself as powerful instruments of human destruction or weapons in the hands of subverts.

But such noble assumptions on CNN have proven to be misdirected, or wrongly super-imposed on the medium, particularly, in the latest instance of soldiers alleged shooting incident at the Lekki Toll Gate in Nigeria. CNN has disgracefully and dishonorably entered its name on the inglorious list of media houses around the world, which tell new lies to justify previous lies.

It’s recent investigative report in its edition of November 18, 2020, on the alleged Lekki “massacre” has regrettably ingrained CNN’s identity in the dishonorable “Hall of Fame,” as merchants of fake news and agents of global mercantile journalism. Therefore, when the FGN touted CNN for “irresponsible reporting” on the sloppy and jaundiced latest investigative report, the CNN retorted on its website through a spokesperson and insisted standing by the contents of its report.

The CNN’s spokesman e-mailed that “Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it.” It resists wisdom that the CNN’s report fraught with such shameful professional errors, vile propaganda, inconsistencies and inaccuracies could be described by authors as “carefully and meticulously researched.” Such corporate assertion in the face of grave official malfeasance is laughable in every sense. It was by every indication a mere posture of grandstanding to save face and embarrassment.

The managers of the CNN cannot dispute the embarrassingly obvious lacunas and influenced defects in the report. CNN claimed it had interviewed a dozen or multiple eyewitness to the Lekki incident. However, the latest report indicated that CNN spoke to only 12 persons in all; six of them were not eye witnesses, but either third parties who retold the story or government officials far detached from the scene of the incident; so, could not have qualified under any categorization as eyewitnesses.

In truth, CNN played out the disjointed accounts of a mere six eyewitnesses, and some, with very vague identities, which by every stretch of imagination is also not what semantically qualified it as a dozen eye witnesses. The antics by CNN is to create the impression that it did a thorough work to compel a tricked public believability in its report and very -similitude of truth.

And the tenor of the CNN report overly indicated that the news agency dabbled into the local partisanship in Nigeria. While it mentioned two names of the eyewitnesses, CNN decided to conceal the identity or full identities of the other four under the guise of their safety; but not because the eye witnesses demanded for anonymity. Does it mean, the CNN’s exposed full identities are not threatened by Government or the Government has penciled down names of those to threaten or overlook?

CNN stretched the malicious propaganda against Government, its targeted villain further by saying, “Several eyewitnesses have fled the country, while others are living in safe houses. Some told CNN they were offered money to recant their initial testimonies. CNN has seen some of the messages received, though it is unclear who is sending them.”

It is surprising that an international news medium condescended into petty local politics and sentiments in reporting a sensitive or controversial incident by clearly taking sides. These aspects of the report only blend with the vague imaginations of the CNN correspondents.

So, CNN employed sensitive clickbaits in the report carefully crafted to enliven public anger and possibly, re-energize the violently destructive protests by pro-#EndSARS campaigners. It is a message it cleverly passed through narrations like; “The videos capturing some of those 101 minutes tell a story of terror and chaos. They show graphic injuries and people bleeding on the ground.”

But none of the videos it released showed anything near the gores CNN has painted in the narrations. It is a deliberately false report, devoid of distinction between verified factual information and partisan commentaries of protagonists of the #EndSARS protesters.

And CNN’s self-contradictions and inconsistencies continued “In several of the videos, reviewed and verified by CNN, some of the protesters can be seen carrying bodies, the flashlights on their phones, the only thing illuminating the darkness as the sound of ambulance sirens wail in the background. It is not known whether these were dead or injured protesters.”

Ironically, the multiple eyewitnesses CNN claimed to have interviewed suddenly lost retentive memories to clearly intimate the medium on whether it was dead bodies or those who sustained gunshots wounds that were ferried away by the ambulances and to what location in the city.

And in another breathe, the report’s inconsistency says; Multiple eyewitnesses told CNN that ambulances were prevented from reaching the scene by the authorities.” The gist of ambulances ferrying some persons CNN could not identify through eyewitnesses whether it is dead or the injured; suddenly, morphed into the dry narration that ambulances were prevented from “reaching the scene by the authorities?”

Undeterred, CNN which was desperate to complete the assignment borrowed the discredited narrative of Amnesty International (AI) by proclaiming that “However, about 10 days into the protests, the demonstrations were hijacked by “thugs and sponsored hoodlums” who attacked protesters, causing deaths and injuries.” It sounded as if either AI or CNN registered the identities of the genuine #EndSARS protesters with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigeria and therefore, could detect its infiltration with hoodlums and miscreants.

For the promoters of fictitious tales of “massacre” at Lekki Tool Gate, with CNN report as the worthiest evidence, Bala Ibrahim, a public affairs commentator has provided interesting analytical insights, where he pooh-poohed CNN’s so-called investigative documentary; “Using some unproven and “miraculous” methodology, Nima (Elbagir) said they (protesters) were able to see shots, long before the bullets were fired. She said, “we could see shots, and at exactly 6.43pm, we started hearing gun fire”. It’s either Nima is in concert with those firing the shots, or there is something sinister she is not sharing out.”

It added; “Nima or the CNN relied on the accuracy of their camera to get the time, but they couldn’t avail the public with reliable pictures of the multiple casualties from those bizarre bullets. Without giving any evidence of geolocation, showing the tracking or the movements of the bullets with respect to the exact location of the protesters, Nima disputed the position of the military, that said they only fired blank bullets into the air to disperse the crowd. Nima simply flashed the pictures of some fireworks, as proof of direct shooting at the crowd by the military, relying, ridiculously on the live streaming of “DJ Switch”, a Nigerian celebrity, activist and co-sponsor of the protest.”

Like the title of Nigeria’s prolific novelist, Chinua Achebe’s essay, “The Trouble With Nigeria, ” the real trouble with most Nigerians today is the gullibility and penchant of accepting the least subs-standard foreign things as perfect. It should trouble every Nigerian that CNN should package this sort of garbage in a report and still adamantly classify it as meticulous and professional.

But a foundation had been laid by the CNN in its October 23, 2020 report on same Lekki shootings. In the report, CNN claimed soldiers shot and killed 38 protestors at Lekki. But in its return trip, it can’t even justify death of three persons in the report. Yes, initially, they sold contaminated rice to Nigerians, but on one complained; rather, some Nigerians rapaciously ate it because of the passion for everything foreign. Today, CNN is out in a mercantile manner to force on Nigeria another narrative even when the eyes cannot sight something different from the subsisting reality.

But unfortunately, the dance of the spirits which torments those that have wronged the gods is tormenting CNN because of its past roles in nations where it used fake report to destabilize countries. In Iraq, Libya, and scores of other countries in Africa have felt the fangs of CNN. Africa appears to be its most fertile ground and CNN is desperate to add Nigeria on the list. Quite obviously, the blood of the innocent is chasing CNN. It is because CNN has lost its professionalism and credibility by enlisting into the league of Jakara journalism.

Collins wrote this piece from Yale College, USA.

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Opinion

Nigeria And Her Betrayal By Diaspora – By Thomas Uzah PhD

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Interventions on the political and economic fronts by Nigerians in the Diaspora have been anything but complimentary of our leaders, systems and policies.

It is as if once our intellectuals find their feet in other shores, they develop a contemptuous mindset towards their country and anything happening in the country is viewed from negative prisms.

These Diasporans become perpetual critics whose thirst for castigating Nigerian leaders and their policies is hardly satisfied.

This posture had made many patriotic citizens to conclude that most of these Nigerians living in foreign countries are driven by regime hate hence are not capable of critically and objectively dissecting the situation they choose to interrogate not to talk of proffering  positive solutions.

Rather than come up with ideas for the political and socioeconomic upliftment of their people, Nigerians in the Diaspora have constituted themselves into a nation of nay sayers, cynics and pessimists trying hard to drag the Nigerian state down. 

It is typical of comments from there to reduce every economic breakthrough to happenstance, every good policy to a mere mistake while challenges are elevated as the norm.

While the nationals of other countries seek ways to better their country through researches and pooling of funds from their host countries, the Nigerian Diaspora community is more interested in seeing itself as an opposition party. 

In the 70s, it was a group of Malaysians in the Diaspora who stumbled on the Nigerian palm fruits  and through researches, were able to extract pure vegetable oil from the fruit which they now export to other countries.

But decades after we have sent our sons and daughters to the most technologically advanced countries, our mothers and sisters are still using grinding stones to grind pepper while our men are still using raffia to climb palm trees.

Good and commercially viable agricultural products still perish on their ways to the market because there’s no means of preserving them.

While they have failed in their patriotic duties of using their experiences to help in the development of their country, they appear unrelenting in the bid to rubbish whatever progress Nigeria is making.

This was why when Nigeria was categorised as one the fastest developing economies in the world, it did not make an impression on these set of intellectuals, neither have they said anything since our military turned the tide against terrorists and insurgents that have been disturbing the peace of the country.

Unofficial reports state that there are about 15 million Nigerians in the diaspora and can be found in most countries of the world especially the United States and the UK, followed by South Africa, UAE and other European countries such as Italy and Spain. 

The largest Nigerian Diaspora community is in the US with around followed by the UK.

A survey conducted in the US indicated that Nigerians in the US are one of the highest educated migrant groups.

The survey found that 29% of the Nigerian diaspora older than 25, held a master’s degree, Ph.D. or an advanced professional degree compared to 11% of the US population overall. 

It is said that no country in Sub-Saharan Africa receives more remittances than Nigeria, estimated by the World Bank at around 24.3B per year and 6% of GDP.

This makes Nigeria the sixth country in the world in remittance inflows. 

This ordinarily should have been celebrated as it is quite huge, but the benefits of such potentials are hardly seen at home. This id because they are only channelled towards luxurious and personal interests. Hardly are the inflows invested into the Nigerian economy with a view to ensuring a multiplier effect.

They are remittances through family ties and have not been substantial enough to jump start any aspect of the economy, let alone develop one.

Even the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, which “has the responsibility to coordinate and organize Nigerians in and from the Diaspora to contribute human capital and material resources, including their expertise, for the development of Nigeria and its constituent states,” has not been forthcoming in that regard. 

Worse still, many of the Nigerians in the Diaspora, wreak havoc of the image of Nigeria by their involvement in crime across the continents.

A release by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for America in year 2020 showed that Nigerian citizens are among the leading nationals in crime.  

Clearly, they have become bad influences on their home country by becoming emergency activists who go out to ruin the peace of the country . 

It has even been alleged that some of their unpatriotic interventions are sponsored to destabilise Nigeria for which they receive financial gratification. 

But these have got to stop. Nigerians abroad must start seeing the good in their country and project same to the world. They must serve as the catalyst for technological advancement and steer clear of the underground moves to use them to destabilise their own country .

Uzah PhD is Head, Mass Communication Department, Kwararafa University Wukari.

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Opinion

ICC: Understanding The Insurgency Within Insurgency – By Richard Murphy

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Nigeria has for over a decade been enmeshed in an intractable insecurity mess due to the unfortunate conspiracy against it by notable international bodies like the ICC and Amnesty International among others, and kowtowing the script of the renegade and insurgents on its soil.

This is indeed a very unfortunate and dreadful situation, as the plot of these people is to ensure a systematic breakup of the country, after it has inexplicably defied all their wicked predictions.

What is unclear or absurd to some, is how it is taking the Nigerian Armed Forces so long to totally bring the insurgents to a complete halt. Given the dare-devil and mindless mindset displayed by these faceless groups, such people are unaware of the huge obstacles strewn on the paths of the Armed Forces in curtailing internecine wars.
In the first place, the Armed Forces of every country is primarily trained and conditioned to wage wars against external aggression and defend its territorial boundaries only.

So, the Nigerian Armed Forces are saddled with a task that they were never prepared for, against their professional ethics to turn their guns against the very citizens they are supposed to protect. This is made more complex when one notes that the insurgents and terrorists are mingled with the civilian population, while the troops are in clear view of the renegades to pick out as guinea pigs.

It is indeed a very sad and miserable situation the Nigerian Armed Forces have found themselves in.
It is therefore most uncharitable for hitherto respected international bodies like the ICC and Amnesty International, to always rise up to the defense of the insurgents, any time the scale of balance is tilted against them.

It is a monumental shame for ICC that ought to know better to allege that the troops are either using excessive force or committing crimes against humanity, when routing the same insurgents that could stop at nothing and deploy any means to prosecute their macabre insidious agenda.

While it is understood that the Armed Forces are under obligation to ensure civilian casualties are minimized in the course of their operations, there is no justification for setting any standards for the Nigerian troops, unless to incapacitate them, faced with the potent danger like terrorism and insurgency.

It is absurd and lamentable that the ICC and its cohorts rather than call these deranged elements to order, or chart a path to ease the crisis, would prefer to stoke the embers of the inferno and tactically fuelling the insurgency further. Less we forget, the International Criminal Court is an international organization and as well a Tribunal that sits in The Hague, in Netherlands, is the first and only permanent International Court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

It is in every material fact intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore exercise its jurisdiction, only when National courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute such crimes.
Against this backdrop, the antics of ICC and it’s cohorts to level allegations of excess force or crimes against humanity on Nigerian troops, smacks of deep hatred for the Nigerian people and a deliberate ploy to frustrate the Government from overcoming this scourge. If the ICC is sincere in its obligation to protect humanity and human rights, what stops it from condemning the posture of the insurgents and terrorists who are bent on rubbishing Nigeria’s Sovereignty?

It is evident and crystal clear that the ICC’s claims must be aimed at discrediting the gains being recorded by the Nigerian troops, which according to the National Coordinator of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, (CNM) Patriot Sabo Odeh, is a vivid attempt to undermine the efforts of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

This explains why ICC and Amnesty International, always abashedly raise their voices to stop the momentum in their nefarious bid to not only prolong the insurgency war but to as well demoralize the Nigerian troops and invariably embarrass the Government.

It is in the light of these facts that the Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai and the CNM boss , earlier urged the troops to discountenance ICC allegations and remain focused on the task at hand.

ICC, Amnesty international and their cohorts have no moral fabric to question how Nigeria deals with its internal security challenges, not after they have demonstrated times without court that they mean to derail our territorial integrity, rubbish our sovereignty and have openly displayed their contempt for our heterogeneous setting.

So, Nigeria needs to brace up to decisively tackle this scourge regardless of empty charades of the promoters and sympathizers of the terrorists and insurgent groups. God is always on the side of the just and would surely see Nigeria through these harrowing hard times.

It is therefore imperative to now know the enormity of the task at hand. We must all rise up to the challenge and speak with one voice, because ICC, Amnesty International and their cohorts are only exploiting our fault lines to achieve their nefarious plot against our collective wellbeing.

Since ICC has abandoned its statutory mandates and takes delight in compounding our insecurity challenges, it is inevitable to embark on concerted efforts to woo well meaning international power blocs to see reason and check-mate this evil plot.

The international community should put its searchlight on ICC and it’s co-travelers, as they have derailed, compromised and doing the bidding of face-less paymasters.
The insecurity challenges in Nigeria really appear daunting, but with resolute determination, valour and dynamism we can overcome this malady.

The agents of destabilization have perfected their inglorious plans to make a mockery of our democracy.
Nigeria can no longer afford to treat the ravaging insecurity challenges with kid gloves, since our troops understand the danger posed to our democracy by this intractable insurgency, we should rally round them and give all the support they need to check this debilitating menace.

All those either colluding or conniving with these renegade elements do not deserve any sympathy or mercy. Anyone feigning support for the insurgents and terrorists, are in all material fact enemies of our dear fatherland and should be so treated. As an international organization that courts global relevance, ICC cannot and should not be seen to be with the hunt and the hunted.

The territorial integrity of Nigeria supersedes any veiled inordinate ambition of any group, no matter the immense resources at its disposal.  There is no doubt that ICC, Amnesty international and their ilk have hidden agenda and would stop at nothing to play out their given scripts, but we must resist them stoutly, with total vehemence and bravado.

Thank God, the whole world is keenly watching and we should press for overhauling of the structures in ICC, to ensure the intendments that necessitated its existence, are duly served.
Institutions may be noble in frame work but the human angle if left unchecked, could mar, imperil and rubbish its essence.

This is the crass state the ICC has presently degenerated into; hence the UN as a family must save ICC from itself.
The leadership of ICC having derailed since, are now overwhelmed with scheming to appear playing to the gallery while in fact acting out given scripts of their paymasters to the detriment of the sacred responsibilities, they ought to be upholding.

In such a scenario, ICC stands discredited, compromised and lacks the moral fabric to question how Nigeria prosecutes this nauseating insurgency strife. It cannot be working in partnership with our enemies and yet expect us to take it seriously, this is simply because ICC is yet to come to terms with the stern stuff Nigerians are made of.
In the light of the foregoing, Nigerians must eschew tribal-religious differences and work concertedly to stamp out the insurgency threat.

As it is, Nigeria is facing the terrorists cum insurgents at the war front and in the same breath being distracted at will by ICC and Amnesty international, whenever the scale of balance tilts against the renegades.
Since the infractions of ICC and Amnesty international are getting bolder and unceasing, it is imperative to change our approach to the manner of dealing with this itch.

ICC and Amnesty international must not wish us well before we survive. Our survival is from God, who has ordained our existence and weathered all our storms, so it is high time we called the bluff of ICC and its cohorts.
Nigeria is indeed destined for greatness. To attain such a height is a matter of dint of hard work, overcoming all obstacles with total focus on the goals. The present insurgency scourge will in no time fizzle out, once our leaders summon the political will to do the needful. What is fueling the insurgency craze is ineffective planning of our affairs and now that Government is tackling the issue frontally by ascertaining who every Nigerian is, we are sure to soon get there and ICC and its cohorts can go to blazes.

Murphy is a security expert based in Calabar.

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Opinion

Understanding Diaspora Activists And Irrational Demands – By Elijah Attah

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I would start this article on a high pitch because of the activities of some supposed Nigerian activists holed up somewhere outside the shores of Nigeria barely surviving and waiting for that opportunity to make a living through ignoble ways, including selling their conscience for a plate of porridge.

They call themselves all sorts of names. They arrogate certain imaginary powers to themselves all in a bid to increase their negotiation value when it is time to wreak havoc in Nigeria as this is the only business they can engage in, as most of them were societal misfits before they scampered out of the country for a breather in their quest to give their lives a new meaning.

I am sad that such a critical constituency that is meant to be worthy ambassadors of Nigeria in the Diaspora are the very ones that have allowed themselves to be used as clogs in the wheels of our progress as a country. It remains to be determined how things went so awry for us as a country that Nigerians in the Diaspora would be willing to set the country up in flames in return for a plate of porridge.

This is where I have frequently questioned the rationale for the establishment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission. I dare to ask of what benefit is the organization to the socio-economic development of Nigeria if the activities of Nigerians in Diaspora has been most despicable and inimical to sustainable growth and development in Nigeria.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission according to information gathered from their website provide for the engagement of Nigerians in Diaspora in the policies, projects and participation in the development of Nigeria and to utilize the human capital and material resources of Nigerians in Diaspora towards the overall socio-economic, cultural and political development of Nigeria and for related matters.

We must agree that this is indeed, strategic. If the above could be achieved, Nigeria would benefit significantly from Nigerians’ rich resource base in the Diaspora. But ironically, the reverse has been the case. I won’t state categorically that the organization has failed. However, I would say that the organization’s leadership has not come to terms with the reality on the ground. It has continued to feign ignorance to the nefarious acts perpetrated by some Nigerians in the Diaspora that aims to undermine national security in Nigeria.

Interestingly, there has been an unholy silence from those that are meant to be vocal in condemning these acts of sabotage perpetrated by some Nigerians in the Diaspora. The question thus is, could the silence an indication of complicity? Could the silence mean an endorsement? And could the silence mean that those at the helm of affairs at the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission are ignorant of the commission’s critical role? All of these questions beg for answers in the true spirit of patriotism in our quest for the Nigeria of our dreams.

We must ask critical questions as the activities of these charlatans gathers momentum daily. We must also do well to identify those amongst the lot that have turned themselves into agents of those against the peace and prosperity of our country.

They have been very vocal in making demands that serve their pockets, not minding the implication of their actions. This, in my opinion, is most despicable and should give all well-meaning Nigerians a cause to worry. We might not understand the larger consequences of these diaspora activists until they achieve their overarching aim of seeing Nigeria’s disintegration.

I consequently challenge the leadership of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission to initiate programmes and policies that would harness the potentials of Nigerians in the Diaspora towards the socio-economic well-being of Nigeria. This is not a time for grandstanding and playing to the gallery as all hands are required to be on deck.

I know for a fact that with the right template, the vast resource base of Nigerians in the Diaspora can be utilized for the benefit of Nigeria in critical sectors of our national life. And if this is not done, then we should be ready to deal with more Nigerians joining the ranks of those who have sold their conscience for a plate of porridge.

This is indeed a clarion call and an SOS to all well-meaning Nigerians to come to terms with the reality on the ground regarding the activities of those Nigerians in the Diaspora. They like to parade themselves as activists, but their activism is centred around their pockets in truth. The bigger your offer is, the louder their voices make irrational demands and ever ready to sell the country of their birth.

Nigerians indeed must be wary of these individuals as their footprints pervade the nook and crannies of Nigeria in search of the slightest opportunity to turn the heat on. Thank God for the security agencies’ efforts so far that beamed the searchlight and exposed their nefarious plots. Even as the security agencies continue to address the threats posed by these diaspora activists, we are citizens of Nigeria also have an invaluable role to play towards ensuring that Nigeria stays united and in peace. My two cents.

Attah wrote from Abuja.

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