Alleged N50m Blackmail: DESERT HERALD Replies FCT Minister, Abuja NUJ

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In a desperate attempt to blackmail DESERT HERALD and its publisher, Malam Tukur Mamu and as part of its unguided and misleading strategy to stop the publication of (FCT Administration: The Rot Within!) a highly revealing book on the management and administration of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the incumbent minister, Senator Bala Muhammad, the embattled minister of the FCT Bala, according to credible inside source, has engaged the services of the chairman of Abuja chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), one Chuks Ehirim, to do the propaganda work against DESERT HERALD. But the decision to hurriedly organize a sponsored press conference on a purported letter which Chuks claimed was written to the union by the FCT minister on an issue that supposed to be investigated by the NUJ before making a stand (that is if the NUJ has such powers at all) and how the chairman took it so personal in his comments has not only discredited their biased position but has proved clearly that Chuks is justifying his huge pay.

In the press release Chuks said he received a petition from the FCT minister that Tukur Mamu has demanded N50 million from Sen. Bala Muhammad to stop the publication of “FCT Administration: The Rot Within!” but failed to provide further details that will support his claim thereby suggesting a grand propaganda work aimed at blackmailing DESERT HERALD to halt the production of one of the most revealing books in the history of government institutions in Nigeria.
In his response the DESERT HERALD publisher, Tukur Mamu, said “it is an irony that the very person calling others ‘fake journalists’ did not even know about the powers and territorial jurisdictions of the NUJ. As a so called journalist, Chuks did not even know that it is optional for a practicing journalist to be a member of the NUJ. He didn’t care to find out if I am a member of the NUJ or not before making fool of himself. Did the NUJ as a union has powers over none members or registered newspaper houses? What is the yardstick they use in measuring the competence or ability of a journalist? I don’t see the likes of Chuks as journalists but beggars moving from office to office soliciting for patronage or land allocations through people like Mr. Nosike using their position in the NUJ”.
The statement of the Abuja NUJ chapter, according to Mamu, is “sycophantic and meant to create an escape route for the various scandals of the FCT Minister that DESERT HERALD plans to expose in its proposed book. I wonder why Chuks did not publish the content of the purported petition of the FCT Minister relating to the said book. He is only acting the scripts for peanuts as he portrayed himself as one of those riff-raffs fronting for the Minister using the platform of the union to extort for a living. He claimed to have received a petition and without listening to the other party, he rushed to address the press to justify the pay and castigate DESERT HERALD to please his paymaster. After all, what has DESERT HERALD, a resident of Kaduna got to do with NUJ Abuja Council? If the Minister is disturbed, he should prove his innocence after the release of the book.”
Tukur Mamu also said that he is aware that the FCT minister is already using his influence through the State Security Service (SSS) to intimidate him. He exclusively told this reporter that he is aware that the SSS had obtained an order from a Magistrate Court in Abuja to have access to one of the DESERT HERALD accounts no: 1000044292 with First Bank. “I am not bothered because the plot to implicate me by all means will not succeed. They must prove what they are concocting against me. I have duly notified our two bodies (Committee to Protect Journalists and Protection Rights of Journalists of Africa) about the FCT minister’s plot to use the security agencies against me. If they want I can give them all the details of DESERT HERALD accounts and transactions. We are not a rich organization and anybody can get those account details (names of bank and account numbers) even from some of our recent publications. We used to publish them for the use of our advertisers or sms send to customers that require them for payments for supplements/advertorials. As the complainant it is now left for the FCT minister to provide evidences of the request of N50 million from him as claimed by his unofficial spokesperson, Chuks and his letter to the SSS”.
Mamu said there was never a time he demanded for money from any government official and said the book he is writing under the publishers of DESERT HERALD considering its significance, timeliness and content is priceless and that no amount of threat, intimidation or the planned arrest will compromise the company’s position regarding the book because, according to him,
“it will be one of the most credible books in the nation’s history. We have taken all possible measures in anticipation of what the minister will do. I was told that the minister had convinced Mr. President that the content of the book includes scandals of land allocations to his (President Jonathan’s) family. It’s just a mischief by the minister to have the support of the president in the ongoing intrigues to silence me. Those we refer to as the “first family” in our promo of the book is the immediate family of the FCT minister not that of the president but he said it’s that of the president in order to have full presidential backing.
That is how our politicians behave. If Bala has nothing to hide why can’t he wait for the book to be out before his blackmail, threat of arrest and assassination? The world should know that if anything happens to me the FCT minister is responsible. Ever since we requested for the contribution of the general public for the last chapter of the book and when he noticed the contributions are overwhelming, I started having strange phone calls threatening to kill and deal with me. This issue of blackmail is not new to our politicians against journalists that refuse to do their biddings. You can recall that Yobe State Government recently did the same to the LEADERSHIP publisher but we all know that he was just being blackmailed because he chose to do his job. So I am waiting for them to provide the evidences of demanding money from the FCT minister, calling or sending him text messages as they mischievously fabricated. Even if I die today I can assure you that there is contingency arrangement the book will come out because the most difficult part of the work has since been completed. Bala will be surprised and shocked by the time we reveal who actually edited the book”, Mamu revealed.

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