Ouk Left And Returned To Nigeria On Schedule
Journalism practice – whether traditional or the so-called new media – is governed by some ironclad ethics that are usually accepted and internationally adhered to. Lying or peddling sensational falsehood in order to score cheap points against opponents is definitely not a part of it. If anything, and because many people often swear on the things they have read or heard from journalists, there is a sacred duty – often more demanding than those that are incumbent on pastors and imams – of a journalist to always strive to tell the truth, unconditionally, at all times.
Even though the demands of modern technology have placed new burdens on the shoulders of the journalist, often compelling him to hurry out news items in order to compete favourably with competitors, yet, the same technology has provided greater opportunities for better verification and filtration of facts and items of information that are available to the him. Thus, he cannot proffer any excuses for failing to verify his facts and or dish out unsavoury stuff out of expediency, or worse still, when such is at the prompting of political or business opponents.
In these regards, a US-based online media outfit, owned by Nigerians, has continued to fall victim to suspicions of making itself available for use and sponsorship by individuals and interests against others without an adequate verification of their information or without respecting the most basic tenet of information management which is “audi auterem partem” (to listen to the other side). This has been most manifest in the recent times, from the way that online news service has been maliciously handling the aftermath of the unfortunate death of a lady which recently took place at the residence of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu in the United States of America last month.
The issue has been exhaustively reported in the Nigerian media, and it has become clear that the circumstances surrounding the event as the result of the investigations by the US Police and other appropriate authorities have ruled out any possibility of foul play in the incident, not least by Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu. Moreover, the Police and other authorities have amply corroborated the account of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu as well as the other eight people - or so - in the house as at the time of the death, that the lady arrived at the house and started suffocating, spewing foam and blood from her mouth, and then collapsed and died, a mere 30 minutes into her arrival. The Police, as well as the medics, who promptly arrived on the 911-call from the house have since confirmed that Ms. Masi had died of natural causes as well as the fact she had a long-established history of cardiac problems. It must have been such definitive conclusions by the US authorities that made the family members to decide to bury the deceased on August 29th.
It was, therefore, surprising and beyond belief to all decent people, at home and abroad, that Saharareporters.com had on the same date of the deceased's burial, come out with a false story that the former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu had sneaked out of the United States of America and had returned to Nigeria to escape the arms of the law in the US. The online news service made so much fuss of the so-called 'escape' by OUK, while trying to rehash all manners of cock-and-bull story to rewrite the history of the case, without any thought or sensitivity to the feeling of relatives and memory of the deceased.
Being very conversant with the legal system in the United States as the online news service must be, it still went out of its way to publish such a tendentious story, very obviously intent of tarnishing the image and political prospects of an innocent man and insult the memory of a late Nigerian.
Editors of Saharareporters.com are aware that there is no possibility of somebody who has a case to answer, hurriedly sneaking out of the United Sates and away from the extremely long arms of its law enforcement system. It knew the fact, which is that Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu is completely free of blame or suspicion in the unfortunate incident that happened in his house on that fateful evening, but opted to play to the whims and caprices of the political opponents of OUK who have been scouting for the opportunity to get at him. Saharareporters.com knew that its story cannot cut any ice on discerning minds but was really targeting at the ordinary Nigerian electorate which it was paid to target.
In spite of such open-and-close, albeit sad incident, political opponents still seem hell-bent on besmirching the image of an innocent man, who has spent the major part of his life and fortunes rendering assistance to all manners of people from different backgrounds and circumstances. It has also been conclusively ascertained that OUK had no personal relationships of any sort with the late woman and had in fact seen her only on one other previous occasion in a public place. In fact, from the account which the US Police corroborated, the deceased had come to deliver some perfumes which OUK had purchased from her shop. In fact, to underscore how early in the visit she had collapsed, the items were still in her hand bag, yet to be delievered.
The incident seems to have provided a juicy opportunity for OUK's political opponents and the story they are now peddling through suborned online news service is a non-creative last straw by a group that cannot even as much scratch OUK in any fair and direct political or popularity contest.
As a close friend, associate and confident of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu for over 20 years, I wish to put in on record that it is impossible to find his home anywhere in Nigeria or abroad empty of visitors, most of those, first time or second-time comers who were brought along by other friends, to savour OUK's friendship and unlimited generosity. I am also aware that during this long period that I have known and been associated with him, I have never seen or heard that Orji Kalu had any meal alone; so it would be idiotic to suggest as Saharareporters.com essayed to do that OUK was alone in the house with the late Ms. Masi and only invited over friends after she had died. Nothing could be so wicked, even as the police monitoring and check out of her phone calls were quick to corroborate the time of her arrival and death at OUK's residence.
It is usual for ordinary people to be inclined to believe the worst against 'big men', and so, there could be the tendency for ordinary people to believe that OUK ran away from the United States to escape the arms of the law. It is in order to put things in their proper perspectives, that I wish to independently confirm that no such thing ever happened. In fact, I hasten to add that when OUK was departing in the first week of August, he had a roundtrip booking with the airlines which confirmed that he would be arriving back to Nigeria on the last day of August. This I was aware of, because there were a couple of his projects that I was directly involved with.
In the first place, I was involved with some aspects of his information management arrangements for his oncoming political activities that are planned to kick off with his return to the country during the second week of September, an activity which I alluded to in my CAPITAL MATTERS column last week, entitled: “OUK, the game changer?”.
In addition, I am conversant with the arrangement by his family to formally dedicate the ultra modern chapel which he had built at his new expansive residence beside the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja. In fact, most eminent Catholics in government and top echelons of business have been invited to the dedication ceremony which will be performed at a pontifical high Mass by the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Grace, Most Reverend Dr. John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, in the first week of September. The invitation letters dated August 4th, were personally drafted and signed by Orji Uzor Kalu before jetting out to the United States.
So, far from having run away from the United States, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu who definitely had no reasons to have done so, is not a man to deviate from his schedules which he plans several months ahead to take care of his enormous domestic social and political engagements in Nigeria, as well as his expansive business interests in all the continents of the world. So, he departed Nigeria to the United States of America on schedule and returned on schedule, no more, no less.
Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu might be running, but he is not running from anybody or anything. He is running for the presidency of Nigeria. His political detractors should better beware!
(Chief Uche Ezechukwu, a renowned wrier, journalist and media expert is OUK's long-standing friend, associate and confidant.)| Article source