From the Nigerian Law School: Rejoinder to Soni Akoji's Report on Sahara Reporters

By Ope OWOTUMI

The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is. [For] to a degree, people read the press to inform themselves-and the better the teacher, the better the student body
- Warren Buffet

During the Occupy Nigeria period, Nigerians the world over were overwhelmed by a feeling of oneness and camaraderie never before seen in recent time nor replicated afterwards (until the Nation's triumph at the last Cup of Nations). Nigerians looked out for each other, defended each other, supported themselves and most pertinent to this piece, educated each other. New twitter handles were launched, old handles shot into top gear and online news portals experienced an unprecedented wave of visitor traffic. People like Omojuwa, WilDeji, Elrufai and GED (to name a few) became household names or more popular for two things- the direction of the nation's masses in the struggle for an affordable life and the education of the world as to the ramifications and implications of the struggle

These were the unorganised media. The organised media were not left out. While outfits like Radio Nigeria and NTA showed the sad effect of state ownership on the quality of reportage and journalism, private sector-run news agencies were aglow with blow by blow articles, editorials and many a op ed about the dangerous tilt of the government's policies. The non-print pressmen also joined the fray. Some nascent news websites got popular while some websites that merely achieved more than gossip in the past now had a sense of direction and could broaden their reach. But when verified, dependable information was sought, it was websites likesaharareporters.com that the majority visited. Since then, Sahara Reporters has been the yardstick for accuracy and unbiased-yet-tough analysis and reportage to many and it didn't matter that Occupy Nigeria was over or that there were no tangible reasons to take to the streets in protest. When you needed to unearth scandal and governmental irresponsibility or just seek out news in general, you visited saharareporters.com despite their diaspora situation

Just as the spell of rebellion lost its power on the prodigal son in scripture, the spell of deceit and false positives cast on us by the seemingly effective press has lost its power. The scales are off our eyes and all our illusions as to their proficiency are dissolved

On Wednesday, the 6th of March 2013, our attention was drawn to a poorly written, badly investigated and presumptuous article by one Soni Akoji on the Sahara reporters website (see article here- http://bit.ly/YcO8X8). An easy way to tell a false story is to insert enough truth in it to make it believable and to make the falsehoods in it negligible. But to every reasonable man under the sun, no falsehood is negligible for we owe it as a duty to be unbiased, objective and unendingly committed to truth

Soni Akoji starts his narrative by the finger-pointing and name-calling characteristic of an article with little substance and a lot of sentiment. The reference to Franc Utoo (which Soni Akoji ignorantly spells as Frank Urthur) as "a close confidant of Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue state" is a prime example of such shallow and abysmal finger-pointing and partial reportage. For the avoidance of doubt, Franc is a career politician whose repertoire includes the Student Union Leadership of the Benue State University, the Student wing leadership of Benue State under Governor George Akume, the leadership of the Transparency International Club in the Newcastle University and most recently, the Chair of the Students' Representative Council at the Headquarters of the Nigerian Law School. As such, he is known to many political leaders of our time in varying degrees and the reference to Governor Suswam as his confidant is an unnecessary diversion meant to drag the name of the good Governor into the mud of a crisis that he knew nothing about nor had anything to do with. More so as Franc Utoo is not a card-carrying member of any Nigerian political party. We are not surprised however that Sunny Akoji would stoop so low as to fight dirty. We expect such tactics from the fledgling Politician-Pharmacis t from Benue State who has always been intimidated by the political prowess and achievements of Franc Utoo who he deems a rival to his present and future ambitions. We expect such tactics from the amateur writer who cannot accurately analyse without whipping up sentiment. We expect such tactics from a man who, having not been taught the pillars of Natural Justice would not understand the need to hear the other side before ranting in judgement. And may we add that during the Occupy Nigeria protests, the said Franc Utoo led the largest demonstration in Benue state over the course of three days against his "confidant"

Indeed, Franc Utoo announced the sum of N500,000 TO BE SHARED. He never announced that as the TOTAL SUM. Before the First Lady doled out the said sum, Mr. Franc had already approached her and intimated her of plans to celebrate the Law School's Golden Jubilee Anniversary in grand style to which the First Lady graciously pledged to support. When she eventually gave out the money, she delivered it with two intents- to fulfil her pledge and to generously gift the cheering students at the Hostel. As President with the discretion to allot and appropriate, Mr. Franc Utoo separated N500,000 for the Golden Jubilee and the balance for sharing to the students. It is worthy of note that at least, six (6) other Student Parliamentarians (including the Secretary-General, the Director of Socials, the Public Relations Officer1 and the Provost Marshall) were present at the scene that day but the Chairman in an unprecedented show of transparency appointed four unknown students from the crowd of students present to count the money and share to the students. No leader attempting to embezzle would have done this

It was Aristotle who said that "To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing." Indeed, no leader however efficient, can avoid dissent whether in the form of criticism or rancorous uproar. Indeed, students in the heat of passion demanded the impeachment of the Chairman and threatened their representatives with recall if such a resolution wasn't met. In a bid to satisfy the demands of said students while remaining committed to fairness, the Students' Representative Council passed a vote of no confidence on the Chairman that night and asked the Chairman to step aside- a decision that was announced to a rowdy session of students the next morning. However, a vote of confidence was eventually passed by the same house at approximately 6:30pm on Wednesday, the 6th of March 2013

We will like to state that our house is very much in order and the controversial sum is intact and in the custody of the school. We are a family of learned gentlemen headed by a gallant, efficient and indefatigable leader. Our track record with finances is impeccable (with so many members running their offices with personal funds) as we have been a rallying point for the raising, collation and distribution of funds for our colleagues in need- today, a deaf colleague of ours has access to an interpreter she doesn't pay for because of our efforts and another colleague who lost his dad was set-off to the tune of almost a hundred thousand naira without controversy

If there are Nigerian youths who, as Soni Akoji pontificated are simply "waiting for their turn to continue with business as usual when the mantle of leadership eventually falls into their hands", they are not in the Students' Representative Council of the Nigerian Law School, Abuja Campus. We bemoan the death of analytical and verified journalism in Nigeria, the decline of professionalism and highest ethical standards in endeavour and the manipulation of the ship of free press into the chaotic shipwreck of misinformation and misguided, malicious reportage. One can only imagine that all other articles hosted by the Sahara Reporters are the product of lopsided feeders, presumptuous storytelling and deep-seated ill will by their disgruntled authors. One can only imagine

One can only imagine that the biting remarks of A. J. Liebling that "the function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money" might just be true when news websites and media proprietors will publish spurious stories and unverified, vilifying tales to maintain readership and visitor traffic

We remain committed to providing the Students at the Abuja Campus of the Nigerian Law School with the efficient leadership that we've hitherto exhibited while remaining accessible to suggestions and objective criticisms but deaf, blind and defiant to all those who manipulate their pens in a bid to engender strife, malign us, attack our authority as a body and stir up a storm in a tea cup

Ope OWOTUMI
Public Relations Officer2
Students' Representative Council,
Nigerian Law School, Abuja Campus

Comments
22 comment(s)
Post a comment

well ope and d whole of SRC

well ope and d whole of SRC you a a huge disappointment the issue at stake here is not just the money but that of betrayal of trust:you are being trained to serve in the temple of justice yet here you are aiding to pervert justice;its due to peeps like you that most times i wonder what my generation is turning into

He is a crook an aspirant to

He is a crook an aspirant to the Bar am disapointed if u trace the linage of his father in the profession they rouges and they also started like this.Kastina Alu formal CJN Andoakaa AGF during yaradua regime.What else will u be expecting of their off spring.If the allegation is false let the so call FRANK UTOO challenge it in court and to all his co SRC members your names needed to be published and Nigerians need to Note your faces for you can not never be a good ambassador of this great Nation

reply to rejoinder

Am not sure if these people are Lawyer.the rejoinder written by Ope PRO2 state clearly that Frank utoo kept 500k,and some of are their saying the story isn't true who are deceiving if the story isn't let frank utoo approach the court for record and posterity sake.Am disappointed to have these set of low value in legal profession.Council ofLegal Education should in their unquestionable charater stop this nonsense that all the unbecoming law students are doing here.Am speaking on my honor

@Theodore: hmm, you bring tears to my eyes, u are a waste of s

@Theodore
Yeah right ! The law school isn't same again. It's full of nonchalant, rogues, thugs like yourself and Franc. Only in a warped mind as yours (supposed future lawyer) does it not worry you that the wife of a public official drives around with N2m (£8k) cash Since when has the law school become a motherless babies home where people come and donate extra cash ? Your IQ is at same level as the average road side mechanic .... exactly how did you get into law school ? Has the standard gone that low now ?
Officially, HipoPatience salary as P.S. is less than N2m/year salary so did u bother to know if that money was meant to fix the road to Aba/PH/Lagos on which you may likely die next time you are home ? Did u bother to know of that money was meant for the clinic in your village where you sister might likely die next for lack of drugs ?
I predict sooner than later, that wig you guys wear around would be as useless as the police uniform.

franc the leader

I have known Franc for years now and although we are all not perfect this is a man of integrity. Franc your a great man and with greatness comes responsibility and criticism. The needs of man are insatiable, thus you cannot pleas everyone. Do not be put down by people who know nothing about the situation and are at best internet thugs who gain pleasure in robbing people of their joy and happiness. Raise your head high in confidence and carry on without fear for anyone but for God. That is all that matters. One luv

@ Theodore : You need your head examined ...Crumbie Clown

@ Theodore :
Read @tundemash's comment. The last Real lawyer Nigeria had was Gani, these Benue thugs are half-baked clowns with brains for corruption. Only a crumb-catcher in your mold would see nothing wrong with flaunting stolen wealth around college campuses. How much does Hippopatience legitimately earn to warrant giving away "two milloja" in an unscheduled visit? And you claim to know the definition of a fool. It is criminals like you that will twist truth in servitude to fraudsters. Your maddam, Franc whatever, Ope Owotumi and you are all criminal thugs.

Beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder, but, there's a consensus when it's about the Chimpanzee. Those girls are ugly Chimps ...animals. I wouldn't take a dozen for one dollar, you can have All. You need to sample Swiss lollies. Sentimental fool.

ALL HATERS KEEP QUITE

Unfortunately player-haters have shown their monster faces again, when are we going to stop peddling hatred ? Many commentators on this page and on the original articles have never come near the law school or if even if they had come to this school thay only passed through it. My simple questions to people who still talk nonsense are 1. if mr. Frank Uto ws wrong as alleged why did a great, disciplined school like the law school failed to query him? because they are not stupid like many people here. 2. why is he (Frank) still the president of the SRC of the golden jubilee set? because the students still have faith in him. Anybody saying anything other than issues raised above should bury his player hating face in shame. We are too learned and too experienced to be fooled by player-haters from outside. 10/10 chikena.

When persons result 2 name

When persons result 2 name calling and cheap insult,u realize they are simply lack fact 2 back there allegations.what d rejoinder has done is 2 simply set d record straight by bringing out fact and nothing more

Are you Sleeping

Wake up mr this is 2013 and not 2010 and this is the golden Jubilee set of the Nigerian Law School and Mr frank was never your leader in 2010 when your money was shared by some people without others being ccarried along plese be constructive and reasonable in your argument sir

u are a fool !

Wahala, as ur name suggests - u are a big fool. When has it become an offence to seek to put a record straight. Ar u a student of the Nig Law Sch ,Bwari who tried to knw all that transpired? shud we continue to take every thrash that is written on the internet as a truth? talking abt 'source of money', is 1 million naira only beyond Patience Jonathan? even if u dnt like her. fool.
we are all witnesses to the event and its aftermath and what the PRO2 wrote above is the complete story, so what is ur 'wahala' wit that? if people like u can be given the opportunities the likes of Frank and Ope were given (God forbid ur type cannot be a member of executive of this kind of sch) u would certainly do worse things and fail within 2 days. And for u to describe our beautiful, brainy girls at the Law sch as ugly I think that definition best fits ur mother. mumu,

@ Ope Owotumi : It takes a crook to defend a crook

Benue seems to be the "Midwife State" that produces criminals as lawyers in Nigeria. Franc (whatever is his real name) is a crook just like Aaondaaka and Adoke. You don't seem to have any qualms about the source of the money being flaunted about your former campus, only concerned about acquitting your disgraced friend. The future is bleak if Benue State continues to churn out thug lawyers like Franc. In fact, all those who milled around Hippopetience were disgusting and unfit to be called to the bar in real countries. Franc and those desperados would have been heroes if they had rejected the gift and querried the illitrate Hippo for moving around Abuja with over two-million Naira in Cash. Let Franc speak for himself, why send a low level Public Relations Officer2 clown like yourself to make an "Asch" of yourself? Truth is: You, Franc, and all those ugly girls in that Foto-News report are fools for crumbs ...thieves!

Shameless student union leadership

@ope Owotumi, the entire Nig law school student union leadership, including yourself should bury your heads in shame. Banji Adegboro (Osagyefo), Segun Okeowo, Oladunjoye Oladitan to mention but a few past student union leaders in Nigeria would question the source of money u and ur colleagues gladly accepted. Indeed, Nigeria's future is bleak.

Stop the lies, Franc is a man of integrity

Stop the lies.., I can vouch for Franc Utoo. He is a leader per excellence. I am the DEAF colleague here in Bwari Law School who got an interpreter through his leadership effort. I was disappointed to see some miscreants/unscrupulous journalist write some defamatory articles about him in d dailies. Ordinarily, I had expected him as a lawyer in making to institute legal action against d paper and d writer(s), because he was so deeply wounded by everything, but Franc was so mature and took everything calmly. I want to make it clear to everyone that all those bad things written about Franc were unfounded and a calculated attempt to tarnish his image. Honestly we here at Bwari Law School stands with Franc. If someone like Franc would find his way to the number one top seat of Aso Rock, I assure you, all the myraids of problems confronting Nigeria would be tackled. We stand with Franc!

Stop the lies, Franc is a man of integrity

Stop the lies.., I can vouch for Franc Utoo. He is a leader per excellence. I am the DEAF colleague here in Bwari Law School who got an interpreter through his leadership effort. I was disappointed to see some miscreants/unscrupulous journalist write some defamatory articles about him in d dailies. Ordinarily, I had expected him as a lawyer in making to institute legal action against d paper and d writer(s), because he was so deeply wounded by everything, but Franc was so mature and took everything calmly. I want to make it clear to everyone that all those bad things written about Franc were unfounded and a calculated attempt to tarnish his image. Honestly we here at Bwari Law School stands with Franc. If someone like Franc would find his way to the number one top seat of Aso Rock, I assure you, all the myraids of problems confronting Nigeria would be tackled. We stand with Franc!

I am the deaf student

Yes, I can vouch for Franc Utoo. He is a leader per excellence. I am the DEAF colleague here in Bwari Law School who got an interpreter through his leadership effort. I was disappointed to see some miscreants/unscrupulous journalist write some defamatory articles about him in d dailies. Ordinarily, I had expected him as a lawyer in making to institute legal action against d paper and d writer(s), because he was so deeply wounded by everything, but Franc was so mature and took everything calmly. I want to make it clear to everyone that all those bad things written about Franc were unfounded and a calculated mischieviously wicked attempt to tarnish his image. Honestly we students here at Bwari Law School do not doubt Franc's integrity. If someone like Franc would find his way to the number one top seat of Aso Rock, I assure you, all the myraids of problems confronting Nigeria would be properly tackled. We stand with Franc!

Lies

If you must lie be brief. Why didn't the PRO1 do the write up.
Well it may be that the so called SRC House isn't in other.
Mr Ope you have soiled your name has your name shall Linger on in Negativity.

learn more

hello mr man, the SRC in the Law sch is not like a labour union. There is no activism in the Law sch. the SRC is just the bridge between studnts and admin, so a politician heading it is even a better bet. Iam a student of d NLS Bwari, and the PRO's position is an undiluted truth of the matter. Haters should go home and rest

Wale Babalakin Junior is here again

Poorly written article. Address the issue and don't attack
the author. That's his Job he was doing. The society is finished.
Such a shame that its people like u who wud be the furure lawyers. What's the diffrence between
Wale Babalakin and the so called SRC President? Well Its either the school
Gave you what to Pen down or Mr Frank wrote the article. Lies and more lies. Well Lawyers are liars.

@Ope OWOTUMI: Accepting monetary gifts from your oppressor is un

Gani Fawehinmi would be weeping in his grave with people like Ope OWOTUMI as future lawyers in Nigeria. These are future Mohammed Bello Adokie (Jonathan's AGF) and Michael Aondoakaa (Yaradus's AGF).

Just as Ope " bemoan the death of analytical and verified journalism in Nigeria",

we also bemoan the dearth of quality and incorruptible lawyers like Gani Fawehinmi and Femi Falana. I can' imagine the Student Union President of Great Ife (OAU) accepting some dodgy monetary gifts from the wife of IBB during the glorious days of Aluta ! What we have now are 419 rogues posing as students and student leaders.

blatant lies

Mr Ope i'm beginning to wonder why you are holding brief for Franc Utor with so much vigour as if you guys are friends. Infact i have this gut feeling in my mind that the both of you wanted to swindle those other students. I attended the same law sch in 2010 and when the benue state governor gave money to be shared amongs we students from Benue state, most of us didnt see it. The money was shared amongs those who collected it so why are you talking as if franc is a nobel peace price winner and fraudulent acts are beyond him? I am stunned and perplexed that you have the time to reply to the previous post, but on the other hand i understand why, partners in crime watching out for each other. Better go and focus on your PRO job and stop deceit. Jobless 419ner, mtcheew

A lot wrong with this Rejoinder

1. A student representative body canvassing for donations from the Wife of the President is severely compromised. The entire Representative body should be dissolved.

2. The writer admits there was "heat" generated among the students as a direct result of disagreements over the amount "donated". You have validated the original story.

3. The writer also admits the Chairman was asked to step down which also validates the original story.

I have noted this PR stooge's name as a lawyer to avoid in future as he will lose any case with the incoherence of his arguments in this stupid rejoinder.

More importantly, the episode demonstrates the failing standard of probity shown by our leaders of tomorrow. Kowtowing to money, whatever the source, is already in their DNA.

The Future is Bleak

If these are the future generation, the future is bleak for Nigeria. Call a spade a spade. From this rejoinder, apart from the misspelt name, Ope OWOTUMI has just confirmed that the story was true. And indeed, the culture of sharing are being practiced pending the time they find themselves in the real politics of Nigeria or presiding as judges in election cases. Did any of you bother to ask Lazarine (Patience) where she got the money for? Failing to do that you have just sold your soul to the devil. A career politician heading the Student Union, the devil is at work everywhere.