The fear of the unknown is the beginning of failure; it was during the just concluded Commonwealth program in Sri Lanka that took place on November 10-17th that Naija Center News was victimized by the Ambassador through his confidante, Ibrahim Hamiudu.
The Nigeria ambassador to Sri Lanka, F. A. Rotimi, initially called a meeting of all Nigerians and NCN was invited. In the meeting, the ambassador requested Nigerians present, who had intentions of asking President Jonathan’s questions to send their questions for screening.
This didn’t go down well with many including NCN. He also requested volunteers for different activities to entertain the President during the meeting.
Naija Center News was one of the media accredited to cover The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka.
During the meeting with VP Sambo, who replaced President Jonathan due to his inability to attend the program, Naija Center News reporter was excused out by one of the Sri Lanka securities.
Surprisingly, we were told that we weren’t invited whereas the text messages sent to us were still on our phones. It was embarassing but needed to deal with it, we found our way back few minutes later. One of the embassy staff called Boco appealed and asked us to sit calmly without causing tension in the hall, during this time, VP Sambo was making his speech.
Few minutes later, Boco invited us out again saying, he has been child by some of the staff and he was told not to allow us stay in the hall. His reason was simple; that if anything happens during this meeting, he will be held liable.
NCN didn’t mind, we sat down and for the third time, VP securities excused us out. This time, it was like being accused as a national threat. They asked for our identity which we gave including our complimentary cards, we realized from them that we were being victimized for the fear that we might ask questions.
After few minutes of argument, though they know we weren’t going to mind their threat, they asked us to promise that if we get back, we won’t ask questions.
Read the conversation:
VP securities: Can I have your identity card?
NCN: Sure (handed over) What is the problem?
VP securities: We were told your network was not invited, so you have no right to be here.
NCN: You must be joking. If we don’t have rights to be here as a network, we have rights as Nigerians. Besides, we were invited
VP securities: Listen, we don’t want the hall to be tensed, your presence could tense it up, so we are doing what we think is best for everyone.
NCN: What’s going on here? There are other media in the hall and how can NCN tense up the hall?
VP securities: Promise us that if you get back in, you won’t ask questions.
NCN: Why should we promise that? Aren’t we supposed to ask questions in such occasions? And why is the embassy so scared of NCN, because he knows we know him too well or we might ask questions that might implicate him (Ambassador Rotimi)?
The time was far spent, and we knew VP Sambo was not going to stay long. So we decided to agree to their conditions.
Notwithstanding, they didn’t stop there, they asked us to sit with them to be sure that we won’t ask questions anyways, and that we refused. At the time we got back to the hall, the program was almost ended.
What we could not figure out was, why should an embassy be so scared of NCN? Because we don’t compromise our work, we don’t take bribe for publication, and we KNOW HIM and HIS WAYS?
Since we refused to submit questions to him to see, he excluded us from the meeting for the fear that we might ask questions that will jeopardize his office as he has told NCN before that we were after his office due to the previous questions we have asked.
The truth was, we weren’t going to ask questions, we were too busy taking pictures, recording and taking down notes and there were numerous Nigerians who came for the intention of clarifying some issues. But the fear was already created in the ambassador’s mind and he decided to use his diplomatic power to victim us.
He (Ambassador Rotimi) used one of his staff called Hamidu Ibrahim who was at the centre of the entire incident. Ambassador was too busy then he gave the mandate to Ibrahim who was controlling the securities to get us out. The most annoying part was that Ibrahim met us before the occasion started, we talked, we laughed, he never told us anything until the meeting started and he sent different securities to exclude us.
We intend to reach Prof. Viola regarding this issue, when we are done, we will update everyone of the outcome.
Note: Naija Center News didn’t have problem with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, we were fully okay and was treated equally with other media around the globe. Whatever you read above happened at a separate meeting organized for VP Sambo and Professor Viola to meet with Nigerians residing in Sri Lanka.