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HUHUONLINE,OHAKIM AND ETHICS OF JOURNALISM

By kenneth uwadi

News refers to stories or information about social events that are of interest to a sufficiently large group, or that may affect the lives of a sufficiently large group. The news media refers to the section of the mass media that focuses on presenting current news to the public. These include print media (newspapers, magazines); broadcast media (radio and television), and increasingly Internet-based media (World Wide Web pages, web logs).The term news trade refers to the concept of the news media as a business separate from, but integrally connected to, the profession of journalism.

The News media can contribute a lot to a society. It can change opinions because media men have access to people and this gives the media a lot of strength. This strength can either be used constructively by educating the people or it can be used destructively by misleading the people. The power of the media can transform the whole society especially in the developing countries .It can also be used as a 'weapon of mass destruction'. This is why the ethics of journalism is very important in the field of journalism. Journalism ethics and standards comprise principles of ethics and of good practice as applicable to the specific challenges faced by professional journalists. Historically and currently, this subset of media ethics is widely known to journalists as their professional "code of ethics" or the "canons of journalism".

The duty of the journalist is to tell the news by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Journalists ought to be dedicated to ethical behavior. We worry when a media house that people expect to have strong credibility takes to the spreading of false allegations, false information and misinformation. Many false stories are posted on the Internet, and it is impossible to guess how many users will actually read them and what their reactions will be.The internet has tons of misinformation, particularly on deceptive websites like Huhuonline.

Individuals, organizations, government and myriads of groups find themselves at the receiving end of false, misleading and malicious reports in Huhuonline. One is not wrong to say that Huhuonline is a willing tool in the hands of persons or groups who have scores to settle. The overall effect of their subjective reports is that individuals and organizations suffer damage to their reputation. All these, of course, raise the question of accountability of the media as it is given that freedom has corresponding responsibility. So even though freedom of speech and of the media is an integral and one dare say cherished part of democracies, the media is not at liberty to falsely try to damage the reputation and image of individuals and organizations. That is why libel and defamation laws have been put in place to curb the excesses of the media. But the concern for accountability goes beyond the legal framework because it is not a case of dealing with a single mechanism

Huhuonline has been behaving in a callous manner and has been putting together false articles, stories and pieces about Chief Dr Ikedi Ohakim the Governor of Imo State without any semblance of truth and furthermore they have been attributing things about prominent Nigerians which are baseless and false. Well meaning Nigerians so far have remained silent to let better sense prevail on Huhuonline. It appears that the silence of Nigerians is misconstrued by this deceptive website

Let us pick on few stories out of the many false stories of Huhuonline.On 21st July 2009, Huhuonline came out with a bold headline; Mass exodus in Dangote groups…..( http://www.huhuonline.com/news506.html) and told us that workers were leaving the Dangote group as the fortunes of Nigeria's richest man continue to take a nose dive.The financial empire of Alhaji Aliko Dangote listed by Forbes magazine as amongst the world's richest men,they said, is already cracking up, and beginning to collapse under its own debt and mismanagement. Investigations from other media sources and key workers of the Dangote group confirmed this particular Huhuonline's story as false.Huhuonline went ahead to name 3 imaginary people among those that left the Group.Why Huhuonline is doing this,we don't know,what we know is that the owners of this deceptive website are hiding in America.There type of journalism is the arm chair type, sitting down in America and commenting on issues worthy of investigation in Nigeria.

Huhuonline( http://www.huhuonline.com/news265.html) on 8 April 2009 told us that political tension builds in Imo State and that Prof Iwu (INEC Boss)is set to challenge Ohakim come year 2011 which we later discovered to be false as Prof Iwu has mentioned in several quarters that he has no plans to contest the Imo Governorship election in 2011.

On 10th July 2009 ,Huhuonline(http://www.huhuonline.com/news403.html)came out with another bold headline; Exposed: Gov.Ikedi Ohakim`s Notorious Libido.In that story,Huhuonline tried to paint Ikedi Ohakim black in an obviously sponsored character assassination campaign. Character assassination is an attempt to tarnish a person's reputation so as to bring him down. It involves exaggeration or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person. It is a form of defamation. For living individuals targeted by character assassination, this is so as to result in the individual being rejected by his community, family, or members of his or her living or work environment. In practice, character assassination involve double speak, spreading of rumors, innuendo or deliberate misinformation on topics relating to the subject's morals, integrity, and reputation.

Huhuonline mentioned Ruth Osime and Ijeoma Nwaogwugwu as female editors in This Day newspaper who are part of the sex mates of Ikedi Ohakim. One of the tenets of real journalists is to diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them fair hearing (the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing). Did Ijeoma Nwaogugwu and Ruth Osime tell Huhuonline that they are sex mates of the governor? The public is entitled to as much information as possible on news reliability. Let them tell us the hotels they have seen the Governor taking women to for sex, so that the public can do their own investigation. We are tired of misleading and staged news events. This deceptive website (Huhuonline) uses smear tactics against notable Nigerian politicians. Smear tactics are often used to discredit, stain or destroy the reputation of someone. It can either involve outright lies, or a distortion of the facts.

Enemies of Imo state are indeed using Huhuonline to fight against the government and people of Imo State.In a recent article the people behind this website put up another article with the name Noberth Ekendia tagged, Imo; yet another gravy ride. I laughed at that article.I laughed that someone who claims to be from Imo state could criticize blindly and unconstructively. The said Noberth Ekendia,no…. Huhuonline can not be from Imo State because nobody from Imo state that is not sponsored by these failed politicians that are struggling to wrestle power from Ohakim will put up such article.

Ohakim is rectifying the mistakes of past administrations, and taking these challenges head on, but of course enemies of Imo State like Huhuonline, will not acknowledge that. The problems in Okada operation in Nigeria that Noberth Ekendia mentioned is what this young, dynamic, visionary and amiable governor inherited. Traffic congestion and too many road accident in Owerri , in most cases, are caused by Okada riders,street trading and illegal structures . Of course people will always cry when unusual change wants to come into a City. When Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State pronounced the ban of Okada in Port Harcourt, I was one of those that attacked the Governor left and right, calling him all sort of names. I put up several articles lambasting Amaechi on the Okada ban. But just few months after the ban of Okada in Rivers State, I and so many others have come to see the good in the ban of Okada in Port Harcourt.Port Harcourt now has less traffic jam and less reported cases of road accident today. Of course, I have since tendered my apology to Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State, Nigeria.

Huhuonline via the pen name of Norberth Ekendia, also said in that article that Goveror Ikedi Ohakim has mobilized enough media hit men to take anybody that questions what is going on in Imo State presently. That he is out to pollute the country's media with one monotonous sing-song of 'Ohakim is doing very well' and that the Governor is buying pages of newspapers to celebrate fictitious achievements .Now ,that is also wrong, because I do not have personal gains (contracts, political position, ) that I am pursuing. I have written so many write up in praise of Ohakim.I am not a member of Ohakim's PR Unit,I don't hold any board appointment in Imo State,the Governor does not even know of my existence, I am doing well on my own as an individual. I just love my state, and want it to be developed, clean and orderly so that our children will enjoy. I have never been opportuned to meet with Ohakim but I admire his leadership styles. He has renewed public trust in Imo Government.He has embarked on successful implementation of developmental programmes that is transforming the lives of the ordinary people and that is why I am supporting him .I also believe that others too who are talking about Ohakim's good works in Imo state are doing so because of what they are seeing the young man doing in the state.

These sponsored writers in Huhuonline that are saying that Ohakim is not performing seems to be blindfolded not to see or know the good works that Ikedi is doing for Imo state or perhaps have just landed in Imo state from the moon.They should take a tour round the state to see for themselves and not to base their arguments on beer parlour gossips. Let them tell us what personal grudges they have against the governor? They forgot that lies may fly but truth will surely overtake them. Last week Saturday,Nigerians trouped in their thousands to Owerri at the Dan Ayiam Stadium to celebrate Ohakim.If Ohakim is a Non Performing Governor,will PDP fight to have him back to PDP? PDP saw his developmental strides in Imo State so they struggled to have him back. The same Saturday, President Yar'Adua commissioned the newly dualized Owerri Umuahia Road and the ultra modern complex of the Court of Appeal. The country's number one citizen also commissioned the digitalized studios and transmitters of the Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) in New Owerri before unveiling the new secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Let me ask Noberth Ekendia, no …Huhuonline, how about the successes Ohakim is scoring in the health and education sectors? How about the on-going massive road projects? Who does not like the new look Owerri? Every aspect of comatose infrastructure in Imo state are under repair or are been scraped and rebuilt. Ikedi's Clean and Green Initiative won Owerri the accolade of the cleanest city in Nigeria. Ikedi won the Thisday best performing governor award for year 2007. Imo job center has employed over 1000 youths. Over 37 ongoing road projects in Imo state and over 30 rehabilitated roads. In November 2008, Ohakim rolled out Imo Rural Roads Maintenance Agency (IRROMA) which is empowering 3000 workers with the mandate of rehabilitating 300 roads in Imo State. Immediately after the flag-off of IRROMA,each of the 27 LGAs in Imo state went home with a brand new caterpillar,a brand new tipper loader, brand new Toyota Hilux Van,a brand new Bus for Vigilante services, Several brand new motorcycles for IRROMA staff,Several new road maintenance equipments, Several cleaning equipments for local government Clean & Green Initiative. The beautiful thing about the IRROMA initiative is that it is a sustainable program that will work all year round, to not only open newer roads and accesses but also regularly maintain these roads in all seasons. Again, it works with communities making presentations about roads they feel should be worked on and getting responses in record time. A bigger and better equipped IRROMA stands by to work on bigger challenges and fix the urban roads. A maintenance workshop has been established in Naze, near Owerri to ensure the equipments are regularly maintained. There is a plan to continue expanding the equipment and staff of IRROMA to become mini-construction companies and there are plans to upgrade the status of roads IRROMA will do in the rural areas.

Further, there are plans to set up an asphalt plant, as parts of the larger IRROMA plan to ensure consistent supply of asphalt for Imo roads. Also, several Toyota Hilux security patrol vans were released to the police and other security agencies all over the state, several brand new Chevrolet cars were released for the Imo Municipal taxi scheme and several trucks were released for the Clean and Green Initiative of the government. Come to Imo state and see things for yourself. Imo state is one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria and one of the states with the least crime statistics .Operation festival is checkmating criminals in Imo state .Ohakim has distributed more vehicles to security operatives in Imo state and has reorganized vigilante groups in each of the 27 local government in the state with buses given to them and they are assisting the police in checking crimes. What about the over 2 million school desks distributed to primary and secondary schools in Imo state. What about the distributed sports equipment worth N15 million to primary and secondary schools in the state.

Through the initiative of Governor Ikedi Ohakim, a South African Company, Leader Group South Africa Ltd have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Imo State Government to develop Commercial Agriculture to a level that will make an impact on food security. The aim of this development is to establish 10-15 commercial farms of 500 hectares each that will include: 200-300 hectares irrigation in various arable areas of the State. Food security and self reliance is the major objectives. One way to achieve this is through the implementation of large scale farming. The project name that was decided on is Agro Nova and a company with the same name was registered in Nigeria. A pilot farm is currently being developed close to Efuru River, Imo State. The implementation of the project will be done in phases over the next year.

In my place,Egbema,Imo State Government in conjunction with a foreign group is about to start a petrochemical and refining company(Royal Oak Limited) which will also employ about 2000 workers. Ohakim is not a magician or God! He can not change everything for the better in one day! This government has made giant strides, and is creating the conceptual framework for development. His administration needs our patience, understanding and support. His administration has a clear vision, mission, and most importantly, values and has the political will to achieve its goals. We should pat the governor on the back and not to join the enemies of success to fight Imo State. Nothing comes for free. There is always a price tag for a better Imo State that we will all enjoy tomorrow.

-Kenneth Uwadi writes from Mmahu-Egbema in Imo State,Nigeria