There should be a module that teaches journalism students that whatever it is that Sahara Reporters churns out is not in any way to be equated with quality or responsible reporting. The same mind-set should be cultivated towards communication platforms whose handlers are misguided enough to parrot or echoe the contents that Sahara Reporters (SR) unloads on its unsuspecting readers without taking the basic precaution of verifying and crosschecking facts.
There have been several instances, actually too many to count, when SR told blatant lies without as much as trying to remedy the situation, which is the logical thing to do when caught pants down doing a hatchet job. Decency dictates that a platform that finds out it has pushed falsehood down the throats of its many readers should take steps to make amends.
The serial failure of Sahara Reporters to do this would suggest that those behind the website have concluded that their readers are either not savvy enough to find out the lies being told or that they are simply retards and idiots that do not possess the mental capacity to find out they are being lied to. Given the glee with which some shallow minded readers’ comments celebrate the unhealthy diet of propaganda on the site’s menu one must conclude the latter is more of the case.
What is wrong with Sahara Reporters may be lost on its clan of readers comprising mostly of incurable ethnic jingoists, sadists and anarchists but the discerning part of the population knows better than to set stock in the falsehood it plies the world with. Where this nefarious platform is concerned the truth is always the victim. Here is a publication that passes itself off as a citizen reporting entity but the larger part of its content is tailored towards ensuring that the corruption that has pauperised its large number of followers is maintained by mischievously using its stories to either bring questionable people into relevance or to keep them in power while attacking those who have upset the status quo. The only time it has negative things to say about these class of people is when there are delays in wire transfers in lieu of the services it has rendered for them.
In the recent past, these services range from being the megaphone for emerging terror groups to running the propaganda of neocons that are interested in dominating and owning Nigeria. Can we trust such an entity to be the objective where those defending the independence and sovereignty of Nigeria is concerned? Only those not familiar with SR’s record of infamy would answer in the affirmative.
Even with this record of intractable infamy, Sahara Reporters outdid itself by sinking to a new low with the story it published about the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai with his two wives owning property in Dubai. While not holding briefs for feminazis, an inference by SR is that the women as wives should have no financial means or that they are incapable of having higher monetary worth than their spouses. Far from such caveman’s reasoning, Buratai’s wives are entitled to legitimate business transactions anywhere in the world. The property promoted in that report were listed in the man’s asset declaration form before the Code of Conduct Bureau unlike those belonging to some of SR’s clients.
If it were possible to subpoena records of this wannabe newspaper it would have been possible to see which of the many persons that were angry at the degradation of Boko Haram that fed it the falsehood it tried to report as fact. The proof will show that contrary to an exclusive piece aimed at exposing corruption and improving the society, favour and pecuniary benefits have exchanged hands in consideration of SR rubbishing the image of someone else.
Responsible information dissemination would have implied seeking the views of those accused in an organisation’s story but this is a concept that is both alien and anathema to Sahara Reporters. Its largely unschooled followers will quip “go to court” whenever someone expresses concerns that paid mudslinging has come from the stable of their favourite poison. Which is what few people understand; because Sahara Reporters was set up from inception as a blackmail and extortion syndicate, it was careful to place itself beyond the jurisdiction of Nigeria’s judiciary system by registering in the United States while inflicting damage in Nigeria. It cannot get away with such criminality for long as a law suit will eventually catch up with it one of these day. For now, let it ride roughshod over the integrity people have spent decades to build; let it continue to implement the agenda of those that see Nigeria as a raw material outpost or ATM point.
This is why it has the temerity to always make mockery of the right of response exercised by victims of its callous blackmail. It should be bold enough to explain to the nation and to the world what the criteria is for ceasing fire on persons on whom it has declared war. It should dare publish details of those clandestine meetings in which persons on whom it claims to have documents are told the terms on which damaging stories would be dropped. Apparently, Buratai who has largely demonstrated compliance with President Buhari’s high standard of anti-corruption has not been paying Sahara Reporters what his predecessors were forking out to be left out of the list of those to be blackmailed.
While it is a sad reality that the monsters behind this site make pretexts to having Nigerian ancestry, the calculated lack of consideration for the instability their paid jobs can cause in the country is something that should worry every right thinking person. It definitely cannot be a thing of joy to be the platform of choice for all external bodies that want to wreck Nigeria and see the nation implode. Thus, doing hatchet jobs for questionable interests in the country is one thing, the offence looks unforgivable; but an educated observer will cringe upon the realisation that Sahara Reporters answers to more than the criminal elements it works for in Nigeria – it even actively supports those that have decided the country must be broken up to suit their predictions.
This should provide insight into why it has decided Buratai is its latest victim. The plausible explanation is that the Boko Haram terrorists that Sahara Reporters’ backer had counted on to balkanise Nigeria was degraded in matter of months. The ethnic agitators in the south east of Nigeria and the pipeline vandals in the Niger Delta seemed to have been cowed by the stature of the COAS contrary to expectations that the detractors of the country would by this time be dealing with a helpless geographical entity. What stands between these bloodsuckers and a disintegrated Nigeria is the professionalism of the COAS which they never reckoned any officer at that level would possess. Sahara Reporters is therefore a veritable attack dog since its treachery pleases the local political desperadoes while satisfying the deviousness of its foreign masters.
Sahara Reporters should be brave to declare what its beef with the COAS is since it is apparent that it did its best to twist the facts and did nothing to correct its story even after the Army officially exposed the said publication as a lie through the statement it released. As someone who is worried that this website is putting itself at the disposal of those that want to disrupt the fight against terrorism by discrediting its key actors with unsubstantiated and sponsored claims it is pertinent I ask, what does Sahara Reporters want?
***Abiodun PhD writes from Ibadan, Oyo State.
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