Journalist and PR consultant, Lekan Fatodu, is at the moment leading hundreds of protesters at the newly opened office of Sahara Reporters located at 13B, Isaac John Street, Ikeja GRA, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, ALEDEH can report.
Mr. Fatodu says the protest is against fake news and blackmail which according to him is the “stock in trade of the online news media, Saharareporters.
Recall that the online medium’s publisher, Sowore Omoyele, was arrested in January 2017 over alleged threat to Fatodu’s life, criminal defamation and blackmail.
Addressing the crowd during the protest, Fatodu said it had become necessary to raise serious awareness on the danger of fake news which he said was not only bad for the health of the nation but also troubling for the well-being of the populace.
“It should be very well stated that this is the first anti-fake, anti-blackmail and cyberbullying campaign in Nigeria. And there’s no better time to speak in loud voice on the grave danger of the trend of fake news than this critical moment.
“If you notice, countries of the West that are well advanced are disturbed by this and are working on how to hinder the advancement of the ugly phenomenon.
“So we in this part of the developing world should be more worried. We don’t need to wait for the government to give us a recipe on how to tackle this dangerous development. Consequences of fake news are as bad for the health of the nation as they are bad for the general well-being of the populace”.
Lekan Fatodu gave reasons why they chose the route for their protest “this location which is part of the route for this walk is symbolic because the building we are looking at 13B Isaac John GRA Ikeja is the office of Saharareporters, the headquarters of fake news in Nigeria which is run by the most notorious blackmailer in the history of Nigeria, Sowore Omoyele.
“It was inside that building I got Sowore arrested in January and the case is still in Panti police station” he said.
Asked if he sought permission from the Police before embarking on this protest, he quickly pulled out a copy of this for us.
Fatodu went to say he’s written to the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode on the criminality that goes on in the said property. “It will surprise you that, the respected Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka had also warned that Sowore should toe the path of rectitude because now that his address is known he can easily be picked up when he commits any wrongful acts.
I’m leading this critical discussion because I’m a lucky survivor of Sowore’s malicious fake news, criminal blackmail and violence. So I believe with this effort we can attract more critical stakeholders to join the conversation and save many other innocent souls from destructive news peddlers, and thereby deepen peace and order in the society” Lekan tells ALEDEH.
Saharareporters which has been operating from the US before now made a quiet launch of its office in Lagos about three weeks ago. Notable guests at the opening include renowned Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Seun Onigbinde, the creator of Budgit, a social activist, Ayo Obe, and musician, Charles Oputa popularly known as “Charley Boy”.
However, from his speech at that launch it would be safe to say Prof. Soyinka had no inkling of the event. “I’m here under false pretences; I was told that I agreed to be present at the launch of this media centre, nobody said I was coming to launch it.
“I hope it makes the media more careful, now that people know where to come and find you and to deal with you when you go wrong, and I hope it will be a genuine media centre, which means that when we stop by, we would have a drink before we get to more serious tasks,” Prof Soyinka said.
We will however reach out to Saharareporters for their side of the story. Checks however reveal that Mr. Lekan Fatodu and Sowore Omoyele, the publisher of Saharareporters have a friendship of over two decades. How and why it went sour is still a matter yet unknown.