A new dimension to the N15 million extortion and blackmail saga extortion saga involving a Kaduna based weekly magazine, Desert Herald was added yesterday as concerned Northern journalists slammed a disclaimer on its publisher, Mr. Tukur Mamu as a pretender to the journalism profession.
President of Concerned Credible Northern Journalists of Nigeria (CCNJN) Mallam Aminu Manu said yesterday at a crowded press conference at the NUJ Press Centre, Utako, Abuja that the Desert Herald editor-in-chief was neither a journalist by membership, training or association. Manu said: “He (Mamu) is not a journalist. He is not a member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists. Despite parading himself for eight years as the editor-in-chief of the Desert Herald, he is not a member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE). Similarly, as a publisher, he is not a member of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN).”
The concerned Northern journalists President argued that publishing a junk magazine alone cannot qualify Tukur Mamu as a a member of the journalism profession. “Tukur Mamu is like an unguided missile while his junk paper, Desert Herald is a loose cannon for blackmail, hacking and extortion. Any reasonable journalist hobnobbing with this lone wolf does so at his or her risk. Now that the stage is set for him to appear in court to defend himself against charges of defamation, libel and extortion, all credible journalists should leave him alone to defend himself,” Aminu Manu told journalists on Sunday.
He alerted the public over alleged plot by Tukur Mamu, to mobilize a ragtag crowd to demonstrate in his support Monday in Abuja. “Tukur Mamu cannot claim any right under the Nigerian media laws because he is not a journalist by training, membership or association. We urge all our colleagues to distance themselves from this drowning impostor who has subjected our noble profession to odium and ridicule,” the CCNJN stressed.
The Concerned Northern journalists called on the Inspector-General of Police to immediately arrest and prosecute Tukur Mamu on charges of extortion based on the strength of the overwhelming evidence adduced so far against him adding that that will certainly serve as a strong deterrent to other extortionists masquerading as journalists.
The concerned journalists said they have carefully listened to the audio of the recorded conversion between Tukur Mamu and the SA Media to the FCT Minister, Mr. Nosike Ogbuenyi adding that they have confirmed and established the link between the succeeding two text messages sent to the SA Media by Tukur Mamu soliciting the payment. The nexus between the phone conversation and the text messages is self-evident as no mention was made of advertisement or consultancy in the conversation, they said.
They further stated: “We have also seen the certified two text messages where Mallam Mamu asked to be paid N15 million and forwarded his account number with the Kaduna branch of First Bank, Plc. Our findings are quite revealing and disturbing because they inexorably point to the direction of deliberate blackmail and mischief by Tukur Mamu, using the Desert Herald, with the aim of achieving one goal – extortion.
“We have found untenable Mallam Mamu’s claim through several interviews he granted to the Leadership Newspapers that he sent the two text messages to the SA Media asking for payment of N15 million for advert placement and media consultancy. There is no provable evidence whatsoever to support this wild claim by the Desert Herald publisher. He has not tendered any duly approved proposal for advertisement or media consultancy to support his claim that he solicited for the payment for such services,” the concerned northern journalists emphasised.
The journalists said they have found the motive behind Mallam Mamu’s trumpeted 284-page book on alleged rot within the FCT Administration as ill-conceived, mischievous, criminal, un-journalistic and defamatory. They wondered how any serious and sincere journalist set out on such a huge project without caring about the need for balance, fairness and objectivity, the pillars upon which credible journalism rest.
They contended further saying, “If Mallam Mamu was really out for a genuine journalistic publication then he would have endeavoured to seek the other side of the story from the FCTA and the Minister before rushing to conclusion through his so-called 284-page book. If he had ab initio taken such a step, then it would have given his work credibility and balance. But unfortunately, he did not do that for reasons best known to him.
“Perhaps, that is what exposes the mischief and criminality behind the controversial book as a tool for blackmail and extortion. We totally condemn this evil tendency. Blackmail and extortion in journalisms are dangerous viruses that must be frontally fought and up-rooted by all genuine professional journalists,” they said.
The concerned northern journalists equally condemned the efforts of the Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of a particular Abuja based newspaper for ignobly standing out as the only major newspaper proprietor who has openly come out to support this condemnable act of blackmail and extortion. “We call on this publisher to retrace his step or we would have no choice than to classify him together with Mallam Mamu in the league of extortionists and blackmailers. As the old proverb says, “birds of the same feather flock together”. We have not forgotten the recent altercation between the controversial publisher and the Yobe State government over a similar incident of criminal blackmail,” they argued.
As for those who may be attacking the FCT Minister because he has not yet allocated land to them, they appealed to them to be patient with him because he cannot possibly allocate land to every journalist or Nigerians at a go.
The concerned journalists commended the FCT Minister for his courage, doggedness and commitment to the ethics of the journalism profession by refusing to pay the N15 million ransom despite the attendant attacks, blackmail and misrepresentation. They called on other patriotic and dedicated public officers to follow the good examples of Senator Bala Mohammed by refusing to bow to extortionists and blackmailers.
“The FCT Minister and his chief media aide, Nosike are indeed good ambassadors of the journalism profession and we are proud of them. We are staunchly behind them in this war against the cankerworm of extortion, blackmail, defamation and treachery. The good thing about this war against extortion is that at the end, when victory is achieved many people who had been silently undergoing serial blackmail and fleecing by the extortionists would be set free from the traducers,’ the concerned northern journalists maintained.
Mallam Aminu Manu
Abuja, Sunday 23rd June 2013.