(By Fejiro Oliver)
“I love to be the reporter and not the one be reported on; it is my life, but fate decided otherwise and for two weeks, the world was agog with my humble name over the media and cyberspace. The celestials may not forgive me if after my eleven days sojourn in prison and three days incarceration in the Department of State Security (DSS) cell I fail to acknowledge the human hands who rescued me out of the mouth of the lion. To them, I owe my freedom after my creator“.
“If only there was enough space on this tiny ‘heart’ to evoke my unfettered joie de vivre for what you have done. The gaiety, the mirth, the heavenly bubbling of every effusive cell that sings inside me for your kind and pithy offering.”
I hate publicity and will do anything to keep away from the glare of the public. I love to be behind the scene while pulling the dangerous strings and reporting the achievements, scandals and corrupt practices of individuals, government and corporate bodies. Despite the knowledge that I am excelling in my chosen career, I have deliberately refused to hug the limelight.
Thus when I picked up the deadly report of following the Niger State Governor, Babangida Muazu Aliyu also called Talba, the least thing that ever came to my mind was that I will be the headline of many media organisations across the globe, or the most talked about journalist around town. In the moment of trials are heroes born and true friends and colleagues known. In times of tribulations do we realize if we have created more enemies over the years or friends.
I love to be the reporter and not the one be reported on; it is my life, but fate decided otherwise and for two weeks, the world was agog with my humble name over the media and cyberspace. The celestials may not forgive me if after my eleven days sojourn in prison and three days incarceration in the Department of State Security (DSS) cell I fail to acknowledge the human hands who rescued me out of the mouth of the lion. To them, I owe my freedom after my creator.
In Inibehe Effiong I found a soulmate. Right from the day we knew each other, our souls whispered ‘perfect’ to each other and ever since then, the immortal cord was struck. My full belief in him made me show myself to him when I visited Uyo, an action I never do. He is the perfect Nigerian who will die for your cause once he finds credibility, integrity and uprightness in you and that he found in me. Where it not for him and a dear friend who blew the trumpet of my kidnap by the SSS on the order of the Niger State government, I would have been assassinated or kept away in a secret cell for years to run mad. Inibehe, I owe you eternal gratitude.
Elombah.com came as a rescue, becoming the first media to call the SSG to demand for my release, even though he first denied. Despite leaving the organization to Daily Voice NG to be its Managing Editor, the media stood by me, refusing to be cowed by the cooked up stories of N50 Million by a corrupt government. News Rescue, that USA based newspaper will have no appetite to stomach the lies of the government, and despite publishing their views, the editorial team maintained that Fejiro Oliver is innocent. I owe Paradigm News my profound gratitude for being a pillar and believing in me, despite not hearing from me. Like the Northern star that never change, they refused to have my image tarnished.
One of Africa most read news medium, Abusidiqu, became a thorn to the government and revealed how my contact with the Niger government came to be. Again, this media chose to stay with me than my oppressors. Universal Reporters and 247ureports played director, protecting my name from being soiled; they are my model for journalism practice. News Express and the Malaysian based News platform, Naija Centre, became a life wire, following every positive story about me. I’m stunned by their reportage on me and if words can make the Angels on high personally show gratitude, I will invoke the words for them.
Gong News alongside Scan News are forever engraved in my heart for showing me what comradeship is. The government could have bought them over, but they sold their conscience to truth and with their platforms, they fought my cause. Premium Times News showed me that in moment of oppression, they would rather stay with the oppressed, not the oppressor, just like Sahara Reporters, though with a first impression headline of indictment (caused by media style of getting readers attention), they took the news of all parties. I owe them countless thanks. To Senator Ifeanyi Okowa media teml led by Deltans Diaspora, I’m touched by your show of love and daily call through reports and graphics demanding for my release. My heart is filled with thanks.
The Global Concord Newspaper family refused to believe that I would ever demand for a dime to kill stories and on that they stood, defending me. I’m indebted to them. The Nigerian Voice, CKN Nigeria, Bioreports and The Call NG became a shield, just as Urhobo Today trusted me to defend me against the allegations. Laidun Laidi and Stella Dimakorku soft sell media will be in the history of journalism for their saving grace to me while in prison. Nigeria Tell, Daily News Analysis, Globalville News, World Stage group, Spy Ghana and Transparency NG are forever engraved in my heart for standing up tall in the face of tyranny and blowing the horns that forced my release.
The Sun, Business Day, Advocate, Leadership, Daily Trust and Newsline Newspapers have every reason to side with the government, but for me they stood like the rock of Gibraltar, publishing press releases demanding for my release. My heart is full of appreciation towards such show of love. To my lawyer from Rotimi Jacobs and Co (SAN), Barr. Gabriel Esegini, your great work towards my freedom will be told under the moonlight. To my personal lawyer from Eculaw Group, Barr. Emeka Ephraim Ugwuonye, I owe you a lifetime of appreciation for being the moral and legal compass to the public who saw through your eyes and passed favorable judgment on me.
I lack words to express my gratitude to the Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ), New York, Reporters Without Borders, France, Media Rights Agenda, Nigeria, Safe Action International, USA, Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU) and the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) National Secretariat. With their consistence demand for my release, the international community got involved and more than ever before, the government had to bow. I have no penny to pay but a sincere prayer of grace for more to do greater advocacy. To the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) who stood solidly behind me and sent a lawyer to Minna to secure my release, our bond is forever stronger.
I’m forever indebted to the NUJ Chairman, Minna Council, Iliya Garba and the entire members who rather than stand with the government chose to stand by me. My fraternal brother and co-alumni, Onwusanya Jones (FCC Jones), IG Wala, Bayo Akinnagbe, Frank Ijege, Marxist Kola, Talakwas Parliament, Eneh Wilson and a host of many others, your clamour for my release will surely be in the book that this saga has created. The woman of substance, Dudu Omoze Joy who began the twitter activism to get me freed; I just want to say I love you.
My Facebook/twitter friends and fans remain my greatest treasures, who through their daily call for my release got the government uncomfortable. Had I a better way to show my thanks, I would, but be rest assured that the trust you have built in me will never be betrayed. The Critics Corner family deserves my prostration to thank them and this I have done, for being by me in my ordeals. To the millions of people and media all over the world who joined the operation Free Fejiro Oliver Now, thank you.
Where success calls, enemies who pose as friends abound. To Malik Shabbazz (not real name), Gimba Kikanda and Chukwudi Iwuchukwu, thank you for being in the opposition and doing all your best to soil my name. Thank you for cooking up the lies you told all in a bid to whittle down the fame bestowed on a perceived rival. Your antagonism is the reason why I came out of this stronger and the reason why millions of Nigerians and foreigners swore never to stop the campaign for my release, and while you failed, they succeeded.
Thank you Nigerians; thank you the international community for throwing me to limelight. Thank you for conferring on me a journalist celebrity and the poster boy for press freedom. Thank you for believing in me while held captive for fourteen days of horror. Thank you for the love you showed. I am eternally humbled.
These little things matter…
Fejiro Oliver, a Journalist and Media Consultant and Managing Editor of Daily Voice NG can be reached on +2348157335563 (sms only please) and email@example.com. Engage me on twitter @fejirooliver86 and Facebook; fejirooliver86.
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