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The trial of Seun Oloketuyi: Time to check the rascality

It appears we are got carried away by the tons of public criticisms and negative publications we release against our politicians that we have forgotten that some people are not public servants and their privacy is non of our business to invade... Isqil Najim

I do not know who Seun Oloketuyi is and I honestly have never really followed his activities. But I must admit that once a while, the name pop-up through mentions on twitter and I honestly can't remember any of his messages. The story going round the town is that he was arrested along with one Chris Uwandu for publishing a libelous article about one MD of a Bank. According to the story, the MD was having extra marital affairs with someone in the bank.. and the victims considered the publication as false and libelous, then he went to court. Seun was arrested along with another who shared the story and detained.

Ordinarily, such stories easily pass through my Timeline without me having to open them. Not since the days of Fame Magazines did I bother to read such articles because they add no value to my life and neither add any value to the society. Rather, they heat up social environment and pitch people against people; soil the reputations of some and win social applause for others, while readers, like typical Nigerian crowd you would see watching street chaos, troop to purchase copies and even keep. Thus making the gossip peddlers richer and encouraging them to report more such unproductive tales.  True or false news, the reality is that bad news sell; and to make end meet, most publishing platforms have adjusted their operations to include  reporting sensational news in order to command the share of the dwindling public readership.

Journalism like any other profession has its professional ethics which are strictly followed by the practitioners. the coming of online journalism and the rises of Internet Bloggers and micro-bloggling platforms has however changed the publishing environment as charlatans and pirates found sanctuary in the blogosphere and cyberspace to make money and to cause social chaos.

While I fully endorsed the activities of responsible bloggers and recognise their many positive impacts in information dissemination, as well as breaking the chains that prevented free flow of information, I am worried, like anyone who ever care, that the beautiful platform is becoming a platform for political propaganda, falsehood dissemination and have been having negative impact on our young people's mind. The poor quality of the contents as well as the propensity to  mislead the public are alarmingly high. Yet, it is more worriesome that majority seems to religiously  patronise these misinformation platforms while the good ones that are promoting rich and beneficial values can only watch.

It got more disturbing that copyright infringements have become the order of the day. People sharing contents belonging to others without giving credit to the original publishers, and hence making money and fame from the sweet of others.

The trial and detention of Seun Oloketuyi and his partner in crime for libel has been twisted to means the trampling of the right to freedom of expression. We have so many bloggers of his like hitting the cyberspace with noise that the Buhari government is taking them back to dark age of the military. Indeed, it is becoming essential tool of blackmail strategically deployed to divert attention away from the reality, from the original sin of the bloggers. And often, bloggers, tend to use their cyberspace influence to promote this one sided part of the whole story.

It is on record that Nigeria has one of the freest media in the world. the kind of information that our media and bloggers churn out daily are what some in other part of the globe strategically protected. the United States that champion the freedom of expression has limit to such expression and it law does not accommodate freedom to libel others in the name of freedom of expression. it also does not pander to press blackmail once a case is in court of law.

Here in Nigeria, our almighty bloggers would rather invoke the spirit of freedom of information than defend themselves when they face the law of the land over an unsubstantiated publication.

The fact that you have freedom of expression does not confer on you the freedom to hurt others through publishing and sharing negative and untruth information that are damaging to other people and their families. Publishing articles that destroy homes and wreck people's lives in order to make money or attract crowd of interlopers is not a way to demonstrate freedom of information and expression.

It appears we got carried away by the tons of public criticisms and negative publications we release against our politicians that we have forgotten that some people are not public servants and their privacy is non of our business to invade. What is more, there are laws against such invasion of privacy. if you found yourself in hot soup, the onus is on you to prove that your publication is accurate. Running to cyberspace and rallying the crowd of sympathizers to pressure the authority to release them from hand of law instead of defending the veracity of what they wrote is hypocritical.

I believe in free speech and free hearing, but I like the words of Aysha Taryam:  “Freedom of the press can never be the licence to say anything one desires. Freedom of the press is not the freedom to slander and attack and must never be used to fight other people’s wars. It does not mean manipulating a story into speaking your views. One might think it common sense but in the world of journalism a lot of what makes sense is lost to the lure of favouritism, greed and fame. Sadly, in this truth-telling business truth is hard to find.”

I am, @isqilnajim 

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