Omoyele Sowore is the young publisher of the hard-hitting online news source called ‘SaharaReporters’. His name rings a deafening bell in official quarters in Nigeria and elsewhere in cyberworld. For the Nigerian ruling cabal Sowore and his team of ‘masked’ reporters are IT guerilla rebels, undesirable elements using the power of the internet to spread subversive materials against those ‘elected’ to provide leadership. But for millions of Nigerians at home and abroad Omoyele Sowore is a patriotic hero who is waging an uncompromising Saharan ‘rebellion’ against the corrupt establishment.
This commentator, in his radical best element, proudly belongs to the latter group, that is those Nigerians who identify with the great job being done by Sowore and co against those so-called leaders who have stolen the national patrimony and turned leadership into a looting club. We salute them and encourage them but sue for caution. We sue for caution because we believe there is room for improvement of the way and manner classified information is disseminated.
A curious visit to the website reveals a plethora of stunning scoops and pictoral materials that would make a typical Nigerian politician belonging to the looting club to be rattled and incensed. And the ‘Photospeak’ section demonstrates the power of investigative journalism. From the President depicted pictorally as the “serpent leader” instead of the ‘servant leader’ he chose to call himself to a $500,000.00 ‘mercedes jeep’ bribe offered to Mrs Farida Waziri, the EFCC strongwoman; from the welcome dismissal from the police force of Nuhu Ribadu to the Babangida family’s ‘loot jet’ that took the children and their mother to Monaco it is all brimming with audacious ‘seditious’ news items targetting the elite, the powerful.
The photographs published in the site that must have rankled the President himself to no end happened to be those of his handsome teenaged son, Musa, who was pictured with a shiny gun in hand ready to pull the trigger, with bundles of crispy naira notes in large quantities, cruising about in his groovy power-bike, on top of his sports car with his friend and others. These pictures were accompanied with derogatory notes against the President and his family.
As a direct fallout of this exposé on the young Musa Yar’Adua who must have been set up and deceived into posing for some damaging shots an oath of secrecy has since been administered on the presidential staff with the State Security Service (SSS) investigating the source of those photographs. Besides, a massive manhunt for bloggers and online publishers and writers is still in progress. Mr Jonathan Elendu of “Elendureports” and Emeka Asiwe of “HuhuOnline” have both tasted the dungeons of the SSS. But by far the biggest ‘meat’ remains Omoyele Sowore. When the federal government lays its heavy hands on him I think the devil and his dark angels would be more lenient in dealing with their disobedient indisciplined disciples. But Sowore is playing hard to get, at large.
More significantly what I found astoundingly very interesting in the website is the report culled from the Kaduna-based “Desert Herald” published originally in April 2007 entitled: “Yar’Adua Is Mentally Sick – Psychiatrist”. According to the earth-shaking report President Yar’Adua once suffered from some mental disorder! A local psychiatric doctor who treated him, Mallam Sani Maigemu, revealed in the interview how Umaru Yar’Adua, in a lunatic fringe, was brought to the psychiatric hospital he was working and how the Aso Rock lord was chained to the ground and whipped silly in an attempt to bring some sanity back to an insane condition! He alleged that the scars of the whipping could still be seen in the President’s backside.
And when asked if Umaru Yar’Adua is now normal the local healer quipped somewhat mockingly: “No, Umaru is still abnormal”. He submitted that: “knowing the gravity of his mental illness, I don’t think he is completely okay now”! Our President, an ex-victim of madness? Is that possibly believable? Why did the SSS not find out this fact before Yar’Adua was elected Governor of his Katsina State for eight uninterrupted years and before Olusegun Obasanjo virtually dragged him to the national level by ‘appointing’ him President? Is the madness-curing Mallam still alive or dead? What about the “Desert Herald”? Are they still publishing?
Why did this local healer with the natural gift of lunacy cure not keep this thankless service he rendered to our President to himself to save the Chief Executive from certain embarrassment and moral quandary? Why did he go public when he knew that the story was a shameful one, one capable of bringing the image of the President of the African giant and Commender-in-chief of our Armed Forces into disrepute? I am afraid the old Mallam had broken the Hippocratic oath, even though he was a local champion who may never have heard of this famous oath doctors worldwide are reputed to have voluntarily sworn to before practising their delicate profession of saving lives.
Should we then believe that the insanity theory could be responsible for the ‘go-slow’ administration in Abuja? Do we blame that ugly revelation for the apparent failure of the President to fix Nigeria for two years running in spite of his so-called seven-point agenda? Should we lay the blame of the plethora of indecisions and policy sommersaults of the Yar’Adua regime on the past mental condition of his? How much of his mentally imbalanced past is taking a toll on the quality governance of our great nation?
There is this particularly piercing gaze in President Yar’Adua’s eyes that suggests that he may have indeed suffered some bouts of ‘madness’ in the past! But beyond what the psychiatric Mallam said it is frightening enough the contemplation that Nigerians may have been dealing with a President with a history of insanity! There is this strange mien about Yar’Adua that invites a hard thinker to study his antecedents. His strange ways in power includes playing a good listener (which ordinarily is not a bad thing) yet hearkening to few of whatever ideas sold to him. It includes ‘hiding’ away from the public and remaining aloof whenever or whereever things are happening. His taciturnity bears marks of someone afraid of his shadows and his general attitude to power bizzare to say the least.
For an ill-informed first-time visitor to the ‘SaharaReporters’ website the conclusion may be drawn to the effect that ‘SR’ has a standard editorial policy that wilfully and maliciously prescribes chiefly the embarrasment of the President and the tarnishing of the image of the first family beyond redemption. This could be as a result of apparent ‘hatred’ for the ‘Mutewellan Katsina’ or outrage at the retrogressive system he superintends. It is against this backdrop that one advices against certain exhuberance, unethical journalistic takes deducible from the sum total of ‘SR’s’ contents.
Unmitigated attempts are being made by the high-profile opponents of this brand of journalism to rubbish the reputation of Sowore and his “Report Yourself” Saharan revolution according to the “student of good journalism”, Sonala Olumhense. That comprises the tech-war by hackers and IT mercenaries to plant a ‘virus’ in the website with the aim of knocking it off the air, a gigantic suit by an interested party to force Sowore and co to go bankrupt after paying a huge damages in the event of failure in the law court and above all a campaign of calumny that targets Sowore’s image with allegations of owning properties abroad especially in the States where he is based.
Whilst the veracity of some of the stories in ‘SaharaReporters’ are questionable, open for debate — of course not a few are in bad taste, junk-journalism-friendly as it were — no one has sued them for libel or defamation curiously. I had expected IBB to cast the first stone! But the ‘evil genius’ feels guilty as charged! Yet one must advice against overzealousness and recklessness
as ‘SR’ pursues its objective of sanitising the Nigerian political space for a better governance.
Citizen Omoyele Sowore may have been declared unofficially ‘persona-non-grata’ in Nigeria and he dares not return home to his country soon, a country he loves so passionately and contributes his critical quota towards her salvation. But if he shows up one day defiantly I think President Yar’Adua and Afrykiya Gadzama, the SSS boss, will definitely love to have him for a dinner or breakfast.