By Charles Ibekwe
“FLASH: @officialefcc is on the trail Dumebi Kachikwu, the younger brother of Minister of State for Petroleum. His account (s) frozen”
Nigerians have been inundated with the above bogus tweet circulated by Sahara Reporters on June 11, 2016, suggesting that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC was on the trail of Mr. Dumebi Kachikwu and that his account(s) have been frozen.
To set the records straight, Dumebi is the younger brother of the Petroleum Minister, Dr Ibe Kachikwu. Additional disclaimer: This write up is intended to set the record straight and not to set dignify the characters behind it.
The tweet from Sahara Reporters’ official handle, @SaharaReporters and the subsequent stories spun from it by platforms that did not bother to do any verification, were entirely false, reckless, irresponsible and without substance.
The decent thing for Sahara Reporters to do under this circumstance is to tender an unreserved apology on Twitter quoting its original tweet and on its website detailing why and how it committed the heinous crime of character assassination.
Anything short of this would adequately prove that the site and its social media assets either have a vendetta against Mr Dumebi Kachikwu or that they have an extant contract to tarnish his family name. It would be sad if either or both of these are true as it would be at variance with the image of a responsible outfit that some members of the public still ascribe to the site.
Ordinarily, it is up to Mr. Kachikwu to defend himself but he seemed to have adopted a policy of not responding to garbage churned out on social media about his person. But he should have at least responded this time if only to put an end to this growing tradition of social media blackmail.
His family, friends, associates and well-wishers should have insisted that he takes the necessary actions against this deliberate act of slander. The imperative for this is that there is the risk that less discerning part of the population risked being deceived to believe everything they read on these irresponsible social media platforms that are being used as tools of blackmail.
It is sad that the campaign to tarnish the image of Mr Kachikwu, who built whatever he has today from scratch as a private businessman, has again been revived after its sponsors closed shop sometimes ago upon realizing that they do not have the substance and facts to bring him down to their gutter level. They have therefore decided to ride on a gullible group-think in the social media to again attempt doing their damage.
Nigerians must be awake to the antics of these persons who resort to blackmail in their bid to arm-twist someone other than their victim by using him as a secondary target in a proxy war. If they are as savvy as they want to delude themselves to believe then they would have directly attack the subject of their frustration. Dragging family members into whatever scores one has to settle with a blameless public officer is the lowest form of cowardice and should not be tolerated by the society for any reason.
One must suggest and strongly so that the EFCC must put a system in place to constantly monitor those that use its corporate identity for flying their propaganda. Once it identifies such stories it should immediately disclaim them so that fraudulent people do not ride on its credibility to mislead the populace.
Operators of the sites that used Sahara Reporter’s tweet as the source of their news story in good faith, thinking they are quoting a reputable Twitter handle, must have learnt after being so burnt that riding on the coattails of that entity can only offer a ride to destruction. It sent out the tweet without hosting the same story on its website and never offered a follow up to admit its sin while those that went to town with the breaking news banner are now licking their wounds from falling for such fraudulent prank.
The reading public must on its part accept that some online platforms, regardless of what international recognitions they might have garnered, are simply not worth wasting their data subscription over since they have repeatedly proven that they lack what it takes to produce contents that add values to their hapless subscribers. Paid hatchet jobs must not be passed off as exclusive reporting or breaking news as it amounts to the greatest insult to an industry for which many have paid the supreme price to build and it is the ultimate betrayal of the readers who are misled into consuming such toxic content.
Ibekwe, a civil rights activist contributed this piece from Enugu, Enugu State.