Rejoinder:Christ Embassy: Anatomy of Smear Campaign - By Saint Azuh


Ordinarily, stories and personal attacks against the activities of Christ Embassy Church in South Africa, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, his family members and everybody that has anything to do with the church would have been ignored or taken as the usual journalistic prying but for the well-established concern that such reports have become episodic and now very irritating.

How else would anybody describe the use of words and language in stories that concern Pastor Chris and Christ Embassy Church by just one news website- Huhuonline, if not to say that it makes a mockery of the very rudiments of journalism?

It is very curious that within a very short span of time Huhu and its print collaborator, the National Mirror Newspapers have ran over ten stories on one person and the organization he represents. Haba!

As a journalist and media analyst vast on reportage- investigative, development and even mischief, it is very surprising that a media outfit can run stories every week on one particular individual. The only import of this is that such outfit or some of its reporters/editors are on a clearly agreed smear campaign or vendetta for whatever reasons.

A look at this vexed issued of the reportage of Chris Oyahkilome and Christ Embassy Church by Huhu and Mirror Newspapers would clearly establish the above allegation.

On continuous basis, Huhu had ran over ten reports on one person. Some of the reports: Christ Embassy: Haleluyah or Highway to Hell; South Africans Vow to Sack Christ Embassy; Christ Embassy: Concealed Sex Scandal Exposed Part III and this means that there are parts I and II; Crisis Rocks Christ Embassy South Africa over Scandalous Dealings; South Africa: Christ Embassy's Night of Bliss Scandal Victims Account.

Others are: South Africans Vow to Sack Christ Embassy… As authorities humiliate Chris Oyakhilome at airport; Red Alert: Chris Oyakhilome's Christ Embassy Plc Initial Public Offer of N3bn….. Employers Beware; Christ Embassy (South Africa): Pastor offered me R10 000 to sit in a wheelchair.... stand up and walk; South African Authorities Close-In On Christ Embassy; .Six members barred from entering South Africa- .Internal feud deepens, as top pastors struggle with moral woes; and Christ Embassy South Africa: Christian & Kenneth Oyakhilome bribery scandal revealed • Tom Amekhiena unleashes assault and battery on a church member • Open challenge to Chris Oyakhilome.

The question is: why this particular interest in Christ Embassy and Pastor Chris? Is Christ Embassy the only church or rather Nigerian church in South Africa ? And why is it that a Nigerian took it upon himself to fight for the coalition of South African churches and South African government against his fellow Nigerian from the same south-south region? These are very curious or rather interesting issues?

It is very unfortunate because those of us that have followed Huhu had a very different believe of what Emmanuel Asiwe, the publisher represents and that may have been why some of us joined in the campaign for his immediate release when he was recently arrested by security agents in Nigeria for alleged wrong reporting, misinformation, blackmail, and felony against the government.

Interestingly, any experienced reporter would agree that the entire library of stories on Christ Embassy South Africa by Huhu were just rolled out from two story lines. And for whatever reason, Huhu decided to always re-write and re-run the stories with even a spec of new rumour in Soweto main market as an update.

Although this is an aside, those of us that joined the campaign for your release from detention were meant to believe that you are operating from one of the western countries. And now we are confused. Is Huhu/Emmanuel Asiwe based in South Africa or in Europe/America?

Huhu should be more interested in improving the quality of both its reports and the website rather than embarking on flimsy campaign of calumny to pull down another young Nigeria in his calling. Without bias, Huhu should look at other offshore news websites including Saharareporters, Pointblanknews, Thetimesofnigeria, Gamji, Ngex amongst others and see how it can line up with their mindsets.

Nigerians especially those of us at home are really proud of the offshore web-based news media outfits as they have been at the forefront of canvassing issues of national concern and challenging the nation's leaders to accountability rather market women's busy-body journalism.

Another interesting aspect of the smear campaign against Christ Embassy Church is the now clearly established relationship between Huhu website and National Mirror Newspapers. Is Asiwe a staff or on the payroll of National Mirror Newspaper? And if not, why is it that the newspaper runs all the Huhu Christ Embassy South African stories verbatim on its cover?

Even when all the national newspapers published in this country on April 26, 2009 had on their covers stories and issues on the Ekiti re-run election of Saturday April 25, Mirror, a newspaper, had as its lead story on the cover: “Christ Embassy in Crisis” , a story of an alleged event that happened in September 2007 according to the newspaper.

This should concern any practicing and credible journalist as it borders heavily on the sense of judgment of what is news by the editors of Mirror. How can any editor lift a stale story wholesale from a website and slam it on the front page as lead?

Initially, the smear campaign by National Mirror newspaper was interpreted as a personal vendetta by its former publisher, Emeka Obasi. Now, the ownership has changed but the smear has continued and it couldn't have been on the instruction or support of the new owner- Jimoh Ibrahim.

National Mirror should help Nigerians see it as a newspaper with credibility.. Sometime ago, offensive pornographic pictures were ran on its cover purported to be some wayward female students of the University of Port Harcourt with some expatriates. It was however later confirmed by this writer (an alumnus of Uniport) in the newsroom of the organisation that the pictures were lifted wholesale from a pornographic site on the web and re-captioned.

Needless to say that this kind of journalism cannot help the Mirror and its editors especially now that the newspaper is trying to re-brand under its new owner- Jimoh Ibrahim who is “well known” in this country and beyond. A word is enough for a wise. We all know the right thing. Let's do it.


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