Ibori…Ibori…Ibori! Word of the day: CALUMNY! – by N. C Nzewi

Source: huhuonline.com

"The act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to harm another person's reputation" My fellow countrymen, especially those that have the fear of God. The presumption of innocence – being considered innocent until proven guilty – is a legal right that the accused in criminal trials has in many modern countries. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who are restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In case of remaining doubts, the accused is to be acquitted.

Each day I log into Sahara Reporters to be updated on what is happening in my homeland Nigeria, all I see is write ups and preceding comments attacking the person of Chief James Ibori, former governor of Delta State. There is no day that goes by without one new write up or the other by faceless individuals and the heart wrenching comments that follow and I ask myself why Chief James Ibori. Going by the daily occurrence I can only perceive and believe that this is a sponsored smear campaign of calumny by certain quarters to hang the man before he is proven guilty. From my reckoning the tactics employed by these faceless individuals and their sponsors, include character assassination, selective misquotation, willful distortion of the record, fabrication of falsehoods and utter disregard for the truth!

This misrepresentation, I believe is to disparage or discredit James Ibori's suspected future political aspirations, if any. These accusations seem like pure extortive calumny in a malicious bid to make financial gains. Other than that, I see no need for the media frenzy by particular sections of the press, in the bid to malign a man, whom the courts have not pronounced guilty, a man who surprisingly, the people of his state have not come out to accuse him of embezzling their state funds. A man they willingly voted into office for a second term. Or did he also buy over the entire people of Delta State?

Chief James Ibori is not the first and certainly would not be the last to fall victim to such calumny, as far as the sponsors of this smear campaign have money to dish out to whoever is willing to go any length in maligning a man whom the courts have not pronounced guilty and a past Governor of a State elected by his people to be precise.

Sahara Reporters has chosen to be the vessel for the dissemination of these derogatory comments and write-ups forgetting that the titillation of malicious gossip and the thrill of tearing down other human beings do have their limits. It is a known fact that these insinuations and outrageous charges often provoke counterclaims that are just as wild, while the mutual misquoting, distortion, hearsay and condemnation can spiral to heights of ridiculousness that strain credulity and make readers to lose interest.

These days even objective write ups on Sahara Reporters do not receive comments, in fact I doubt if these other write ups are being read. When some readers log into Sahara Reporters, they head straight for the latest news. If they do not see “Ibori in trouble again or Ibori does this or that” they log off. They log off because they cannot make objective criticisms to intellectual and well researched write ups, in fact some of the commentators don't even get to read the write up, once they see Ibori in the headlines they all get excited and start posting comments that are not even relevant to the write up, disparaging and cursing, with strong words, their fellow human being, as if some of them wouldn't be worse than all the past and present governors combined if given the opportunity to rule their states for just a month.

Even the anonymity adopted by some of the writers of these articles and most of the commentators do have their counterproductive effects, highlighting the Kafkaesque unreality of the “kangaroo court” assembled in cyberspace. For that category of commentators I'll explain: "Kafkaesque" is an eponym (should I explain this word too?) used to describe concepts, situations, and ideas which are reminiscent of the literary work of Prague writer Franz Kafka, particularly his novels the Trial and The Castle, and the novella The metamorphosis. The adjective refers to anything suggestive of Kafka, especially his nightmarish type of narration, in which characters lack a clear course of action, the ability to see beyond immediate events, and the possibility of escape). Some of these writers will only comment from behind the mask of a fictitious name exposing the insincerity of their comments and derogatory remarks.

All these present us with a situation of serious moral conflict that should be addressed, because it violates the dignity of the person being attacked and undermines truth. And in the end, truth is the only basis on which a good society can be built.

Sahara Reporters permit me to ask, did you demand something in particular from Ibori which he refused you, or did he take something that belongs to you? I ask this question because this seems too personal. How many governors, past and present, being probed by EFCC, have you besieged in this manner of campaign against Chief James Ibori? Or was Sahara Reporters created with a special purpose to destroy the image of Chief James Ibori?

On the other hand, Chief James Ibori has denied most of the charges and accusations, why don't we wait for the law to take its course? Nuhu Ribadu mentioned that Chief Ibori offered him a bribe of $15million in cash and everybody screamed “BLUE MURDER!”. Did any of us see the cash? Why should we believe Ribadu if we cannot believe Chief Ibori? I'll answer the question; it is left for the law courts to decide! Which brings me back to my opening statement “the presumption of innocence – being considered innocent until proven guilty – is a legal right of any accused in any criminal trial? Let us allow the courts to decide who is innocent and who is guilty. Let us allow Chief James Ibori live his normal life without these scandalous distractions until the courts decide.

LET IBORI BE! He remains innocent until proven otherwise by the law courts. All these degrading and malicious allegations will not influence the decision of the law courts in any way, mobilizing a handful of jobless people everyday to the courts will not influence the judges or the courts in any way. If and when the law courts find him innocent, he will still remain one of us, entitled to his human rights which are being seriously abused by a bunch of faceless individuals! We should allow the process of the court to prove guilt, instead of pronouncing people guilty even before they appear in court. This was the same system EFCC adopted under Ribadu, at the end of the day, all his one million count charges never amounted to one conviction.

I am very much aware that this article, if published by Sahara Reporters will definitely elicit spurious comments, name calling and unscrupulous reactions, but I plead with Sahara Reporters fans to be civil and come up with objective criticisms if any, we are all supposed to be mature educated adults, lets discuss rather than abuse. I love Nigeria as well as you do.

I urge Sahara Reporters to exhibit fairness and accuracy in reporting (FAIR) in their journalism and unless they are committed to fairness, balance, and respect for individual privacy and rights, they will not only have an audience but will, sooner or later, run afoul of the law and land behind bars.

Calumny is a serious sin under the Ten Commandments, “Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Leave the Judgment to the law courts!
N. C Nzewi
[email protected]

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