N5m Cheque Saga: Amaechi Didn't Pay Us A Dime; Reno Omokri Behind ScandalOmojuwa
The build up to the 2015 general election has no doubt witnessed a number of propaganda and counter-propaganda by both the ruling People's Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC. This is not unexpected with eight months to general elections. Nigerians are in for more juicy news items, both credible and otherwise.
A report on Pointblanknews.com, had chronicled how 'agents of the APC and Governor Rotimi Amaechi invited some online praise singers to Port Harcourt for a thank you dinner, and that each got N5 million for the dogged bashing of the Goodluck Jonathan's administration'.
The news site said the event was put together by one of Amaechi's 'lackeys' Preye Aganaba, who invited from Abuja, Lagos and Owerri, ardent critics of Jonathan.
Continuing, Pointblanknews wrote: 'A reliable source close to APC interim publicity secretary, Mr. Lai Mohammed disclosed to Newsday reporters that APC had released the sum of N300 million to be shared among its online 'warriors' for the final push against Goodluck Jonathan and a possible fall of the Nigerian government.
'This strategy is coming amidst an excellent result from the Public Relations firm the party hired from the United States in the tune of $1 billion to help the party tarnish the image of the Nigerian government. The PR firm which managed Obama 2008 and 2012 campaign has been instrumental to Nigerian government being featured in the international news media as weak and corrupt'.
It was alleged that some persons who go on Facebook and Twitter 'to portray themselves as patriots, were sent air tickets to fly to Rivers State. The governor took them round the state where he showed them only his achievements', the report further stated.
It continued that although 49 individuals were invited, 34 reportedly attended the event Tweetcasted via #TheAmaechiIKnow.
It said present were Kelechi Jeff Eme, Femi Adeoya, Petra Akinti Onyegbule, Preye Aganaba, Jasper Azuatalam, Japheth J Omojuwa, Soni Akoji, Theresa Ugwuanyi, Danjuma Azemobo Musa, Kelechi Deca.
The list also include Oviebor Okeh Goodluck, Eba Okorodudu White, Mercy Ugo and Uche Igwe, Eze-Basil Chinwendu Oluo D'Oracle, Ross Alabo-George, Mark Olise among others.
Victoria Ohaeri-Ibezim, Bukky Hassan, Tokunbo Aremodua, Susan Henshaw and a few others were said to have missed the event.
Reacting to an enquiry by DailyPost, one of the participants, Japheth Omojuwa, dismissed the allegations.
The political commentator and social media expert said 'it was posted by a platform posing as Sahara Reporters. Pointblanknews is linked to Reno Omokri just as NaijaPundit and WarriReporters.
'I was in Port Harcourt. As I speak am being owed N44,509.00 for air fare and taxi fare. I was not paid a dime and I know Rinsola Abiola was not paid either.
'This is nothing but an update on their blackmail. I will address it in my Punch column on Wednesday'.
On his part, Soni Akoji, whose name appeared on the purported cheque spreading online, described the story as totally false and misleading.
He bared his mind through a rebuttal titled 'Visit To PH, N5 Million Photoshopped Cheque And Matters Arising'.
It reads in parts: 'My private visit to Port Harcourt as a part of 49 persons invited for an interactive forum with the Governor as part of activities marking his 49th birthday anniversary has been generating ripples. The high point of it all was the allegation that we were hired as 'Attack Dogs' to abuse the Federal Government and each of us was paid N5,000,000.00 as reported in an online magazine.
'Initially I thought this was a joke, but based on the avalanche of calls that I have received within and outside the country, and from private messages from well meaning friends and family, I have been made to understand that some people actually believed the story that we were paid N5 million, after they saw a photoshopped cheque purportedly issued to me by the Rivers State government.
'I have posted a blank picture of the original cheque and the photoshopped cheque purportedly issued to me by the Rivers State government, so that we can put the issues emanating therefrom to rest.
'Firstly, the names on my ID is not Soni, but Sunday. So based on that alone, no teller anywhere in the world will honour that cheque if I present it across the counter in a bank.
'Secondly, the purported cheque issued to me was an open cheque. Government cheques are ALWAYS closed /crossed cheques.
'Thirdly, there was only one signatory. This is not in line with global best practice.
'Fourthly, in line with the CBN banking policy, the maximum withdrawal over the counter from second or third party cheque is N150,000. (Hope I got that right?) So this cheque will have to go through clearing. This means that I will have to pay it into my current account. The name on my current account is not Soni.
'Since we are talking about inducement, permit me to appeal to the sentiment of those who believed that this cheque was symbolic as the real cheque might be somewhere else. Take it from me, I am not aware of the existence of any other cheque off blogosphere. Neither was I enriched by a single kobo for participating in the interactive forum #TheAmaechiIKnow'.
Sunday reiterated that the event was packaged and sponsored by friends of Amaechi as part of activities lined up for his 49th birthday
'It was a privately funded event and I can categorically say that the Rivers State Government's involvement is in the area of logistics', he added.
Email enquiries to Mr. Omokri and David Iyofor, Ameachi's Chief Press secretary were not replied as at the time of filling this report.