The Bayelsa State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has raised an alarm over an infestation of fake reporters in the state. To worsen matters, the union is worried that the imposters are bestowing fraudulent honors and awards on some politicians as well as military officers.
The complaint comes a few days after a fake Cable News Network (CNN) reporter was apprehended by the state NUJ and handed over to the police. Investigations revealed that some principal officials of the Bayelsa State government, including the Commissioners for Information, the Commissioner for Energy, and the Secretary to Government, had fallen victim to the scam artist who passed himself off as a CNN reporter. The officials had reportedly handed millions of naira of public funds to the imposter before he was exposed as a fraud.
In a statement issued today in Yenogoa, the NUJ council chairman, Tare Akono, disclosed that his union was inundated with complaints over the activities of a shady questionable media group handing out questionable awards to prominent members in the society. SaharaReporters learnt that the shady group goes by the name Niger Delta Media Watch. It had reportedly bestowed “excellence” awards on the Secretary of the State Universal Education Board (SUBEB) and the commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) operating in the state.
“This group is not known from Adam,” said a journalist based in Yenogoa, the state capital. He said such groups thrive “because of the desire by public officials to collect awards, even if they are meaningless.” He also blamed the state’s chapter of the NUJ for being “incapable of putting its house in order and incapable of controlling the conduct of its members reported for disciplinary actions.”
Mr. Akono criticized the so-called awards, noting that the group did not have any respectable criteria for rating the performance of the award recipients. He added that the group painted the journalism profession in bad light.
Mr. Akono’s statement warned that an investigation by the NUJ showed that the awards were bogus, and were given for financial gains.
“Those involved in the award presentation are non-media practitioners and have been claiming to be reporters of national dailies while giving unsuspecting politicians, key office holders, awards of excellence in the name of an unregistered non-governmental organization called Niger Delta Watch.
“The intention is clearly to swindle politicians and people holding key positions in the society. Those involved in the racket are members of one family and their friends and not members of the journalism profession.
“As a responsible union the NUJ will not tolerate anybody or group of persons going round the state to fraudulently collect money from unsuspecting Bayelsans and drag the name of the profession to the mud.”
Mr. Akono urged members of the public to be wary of such groups and to verify the authenticity of any media organization by checking with the union.