Nigerian Church Building Collapse; Why I Exposed T.B. Joshua For Offering Bribe – Journalist

They said I’m an attention freak; that I published the audio clip because I yearned to be a social media celebrity (whatever that means). 
Well, I won’t lie; I enjoyed the 15 minutes of fame. I loved the thrill of being in the eye of the storm. In case my accusers are reading this, I got over 2,000 followers on Twitter within the period. I don’t know what to make of that yet. 

I’m not so sure about this Twitter thing, but if there’s a way I can convert that to money, that would be something. Gbenga Olorunpomi, how much does one twitter follower exchange for a dollar these days?

I had recorded the audio six days before posting it on Twitter. To be sincere, I didn’t think much of it until Saturday morning (I’d explain later). I was intently watching the way the collapsed building was being played out in the media after the rather disappointing way Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, dodged reporters through a back door after his private meeting with TB Joshua on September 14. I observed that the Nigerian media were being too gentle on TB Joshua despite the glaring irregularities surrounding the collapse. I read more reports about the “hovering craft” and how Haram could have sabotaged the building and other poppycock the televangelist wanted the world to believe.

Very little was reported about the structural defects of the building. Not much was written about the fact that the building originally had two floors and was being illegally refurbished with four additional floors when it collapsed. We didn’t come hard on the Church goons who attacked first responders. We didn’t highlight the fact that many of those that perished could have been saved if NEMA officials weren’t barred from the site for almost three days! We didn’t make an issue of the fact that our colleagues who had gone to report the collapsed building were molested on Saturday.

So when I woke up last Saturday morning and saw the picture of Jonathan shaking hands with a grinning TB Joshua with headlines like “Jonathan consoles TB Joshua,” I said damn it! I couldn’t stomach this blatant impunity. TB Joshua is perhaps the most powerful preacher in Africa and politicians all over the continent fawn at him. But as watchdogs, journalists must hold entrenched powers to account. If Nigerian politicians didn’t realise that more than 90 lives had just perished underneath a building without requisite permit and that those responsible should be held accountable, then the responsibility falls on journalists to force them to do the right thing.

Journalists shouldn’t be seen or heard telling the prime suspect they would write “just like you said” after he offered to buy their consciences with N50,000. Some of the reporters who collected the N50,000 have called me after the audio went viral to complain. They told me they have been getting calls from colleagues and family members who recognised their voices in the recording. One even accused me of a breach of trust. I told him I didn’t sign a pact of silence with anybody. For me. the decision was between covering the ethical shortcomings of my colleagues or doing that which is right to make sure those who died and their families get justice. The decision was easy.

Why didn’t I publish the audio the same day I recorded it? Nigerian journalists habitually ask for gratification at press conferences and corporate events that it has unfortunately become a norm. Reporters actually think you’re a fool if you turned down what they call “brown envelope”. There are several excuses to justify it: “We’re poorly paid,” “We have not been paid for months,” etc. Honestly, it’s hard to dismiss some of these excuses sometimes. Nigerian journalists are perhaps among the worst paid in the world. This is where the Union of Journalists, NUJ, should do more.

And for the fundamentalist followers of TB Joshua, this isn’t about your spiritual Godfather. I would still have gone public with this if the Pope was involved. I can’t say I’m sorry that his ego was bruised. He clearly meant for the money to influence the reporting of the event. “So what are you going to write?” He had asked. That makes it a bribe. Simple. I can’t help you if you couldn’t decipher that. I’m a reporter not a brain surgeon. This is the last I’m going to say on this issue unless something drastic happens. Let the personal attacks continue.

Source: Osun Defender
TB Joshua 4578761160169993532

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