… ALLEGE GLOBAL SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST AITEO AND ITS FOUNDER BENEDICT PETERS
… INSIST THAT MATTERS ALREADY SETTLED IN COURT REMAIN SETTLED
… CALL ON BUSINESSES OWNERS TO ONLY ENGAGE IN HEALTHY COMPETITION
There is no downplaying the trend of media corruption gaining traction in recent times. What is fast gaining notoriety is the rate at which foreign journalists are contracted by some unscrupulous entities to do damage to national growth through indigenous players.
Like the colour and literal meaning of crude, the petroleum industry in Nigeria has always been one in which some companies and individuals have played their hand in the crudest manners.
For this group of people who have held sway for decades, every entity perceived as competition must be crushed for them to have a field day while fleecing the country of billions of dollars and stashing them in offshore accounts.
To the faceless, grief-stricken and rent seeking saboteurs, playing in the petroleum industry is a war; and no one can be trusted in the ferocious survival battle.
While competition is a welcome development in a capitalist economy like Nigeria’s, healthy rivalry is not an expression one would find in the lexicon of these corporate hyenas who only feed on the flesh and blood of competitors.
Beyond the boardroom now, major players have taken their bitter rivalry to the newsrooms. They even go as far as contracting foreign journalists especially those renowned for their expertise and experience in paid media warfare.
One of such mercenaries is Peter Whoriskey, a staff of the Washington Post who focuses on investigations of economic and financial issues.
Interestingly, Whoriskey has not been found to do any work in or on Nigeria. There are not known published works of his that dwell on Nigeria, her politics, business or culture.
However, perhaps because of his predilection for the seamy side of journalism, he was the go-to guy for international oil companies when they want to roughen up their competitors.
By deploying scandalous mails to his targets, Whoriskey’s subtle threat is unmistakable. His veiled reference to unfounded scandals readily gives him out as a paid fifth columnist waiting to bear his fangs. Many are waiting with bated breath to see how he intends to publish the supposed dirts he has on the Nigerian businessmen. Whatever report he comes with eventually may not pass the ethical test.
Meanwhile, a consortium of lawyers for human rights and justice and the Council of Ethnic Youth Leaders of Nigeria (CEYLN) in conjunction with some Civil Society organizations have alleged that there is an ongoing plot global media campaign against Aiteo Group of Companies and its founder, Mr. Benedict Peters using the Washington Post.
In a joint press conference by the different groups, they allege that the allegations being peddled against Mr. Peters and Aiteo are the same issues which have already been conclusively determined by courts of competent jurisdiction or pending in court and the purpose of the publication could only be to impugn the integrity of Mr. Peters and the company.
“Out of the five questions Mr. Whoriskey inquired about, question 1 has been resolved by a competent court of law in Nigeria and the decision widely publicized. A simple internet search would have availed Mr. Whoriskey of the judgment of the case and the present state of affairs. Further, questions 2-5 were directly extracted from untested allegations contained in a first amended verified complaint filed before the United States District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division” the groups alleged.
They called on media houses not to yield their platforms to people whose objectives were not noble as such would encourage unhealthy business rivalry. “There is a plethora of questions which The Washington Post rather has to answer and which directly calls to question its genuineness in permitting this to happen. It will be damning to the long-held image of The Washington Post that its staff have yielded the platform of the medium to the use for a global smear campaign and unhealthy business rivalry” Mr. Tochukwu Ohazuruike who addressed the press was quoted as saying.
In answering the allegations against Mr. Peters, the groups claimed that “Mr. Peters has stated severally that he has never received any favour by way of facilitation or otherwise from Dieziani Alison-Madueke, and there was therefore nothing to be grateful for. He has severally denounced any such attempt to link the purchase of his property with Dieziani under such premises. His purchase of the furniture was in furtherance of his desire to furnish a property that belonged to him, and those furniture can be found, even today, at his said property at 58 Harley House. No furniture that belonged to him can be found at any other place other than in his property. The furniture found at the UK address of Dieziani Alison-Madueke does not belong to him, and certainly could not have been the same found in his said property at 58 Harley House.”
They insist that the answers they provided should discourage future smear campaigns as this is not the first time it was happening saying “we hope that with these answers we would have satisfied Mr. Whoriskey and got him to alert his sponsors that the plot is dead on arrival and cannot be revived. We also say to all such persons who would in the future want to regurgitate these issues that the answers are already available in the public space as there is nothing hidden and there is nothing any media house can unearth again so no need taking any jobs from the sponsors of this smear campaign.”