By Olawale Abydeen
I was driving along the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos penultimate week when one Mr. Galadima from Kwara State Ministry of Information called me on my mobile phone.
The caller said he heard that members of the Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists. NGIJ are coming to Kwara state for a media tour. I told him, ‘I am the founder of NGIJ and I was not aware of such tour’.
I later found out that Abdulrahman Aliagan, my former secretary who hijacked the registration papers of the organization has since been parading himself as founder, and has also been ecruiting more officials and members into the NGIJ.
HOW WAS NGIJ FOUNDED
In the year 2016, I incorporated Investigation Media Limited and the company publishes investigative and security news on line via www.securitymonitor.org
In the quest for a more robust platform towards enhancement of my profession, I initiated Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists, NGIJ.
I developed the mission and vision of the NGIJ in line with American Consortium of Investigative Journalists (an organization which I have been following many years ago as a reporter).
I later approached my professional mentor and Editor, Mr. Oluwasegun Abifarin to help fine tune the contents of the proposal, which he did graciously.
Shola Akinyele, Publishers of the Press tv and Secretary of Watchdog Society was invited to design the NGIJ logo. Again, Mr. Akinyele did this without been paid.
In early 2017, I was on an investigative mission in Abuja when I met an old school friend, Abdulraman Aliagan. He tried to disuade me from the story since according to him the people I was investigating were dangerous.
I discussed a number of other things with Aliagan, as a media practitioner too and a former school mate
We talked about NGIJ and in the process, he introduced me to a lawyer, Barister Kehiinde Lambe who also resides in Abuja with him. I exchanged phone contact with Barrister Lambe and we later talked about registration of NGIJ through phone.
He agreed I should pay 120k. I transferred the money in installment through my personal account and the bank records are still there for verification.
I sent all the necessary documents to Aliagan, including four names of trustees, aims and objectives of the organization so as to print and made them available to his lawyer friend.
I couldn’t balance up the required money until early 2018 when he told me the certificate were ready. I sent him the balance and told him to hand over the registration papers to Aliagan which he did.
Regrettably, Aliagan never allowed me to set my eyes on the registration papers till date. He gives all manners of flimsy excuses each time I asked for it. I later discovered that Aliagan removed one of the names I sent to him and added his name as trustee.
This I sensed was why he didn’t want me to see the document.
ACTIVITIES OF THE NGIJ BEFORE IT WAS DISRUPTED
I led series of courtesy calls to media organizations, meetings with media colleagues and trainings for upcoming journalists including Campus journalists.
Through my personal savings, I provided supports for them. This was when my path crossed with some bloggers who hitherto presented themselves to me as journalists.
In a bid to retrain them and empower them professionally, some of the bloggers followed me to investigative tours and I foot the bills of their expenses.
Although, many of them applied for associate membership of the organization, however, few were considered then and they have not completed their registration procedure before I fell apart with them.
I led a team of others to many parts of the country, sponsoring some other hands including reporters, graphic designers, photographers, etc in the course of investigations.
I personally initiated and sponsored a media survey in Kogi state in 2019, few journalists and other bloggers who joined me in Kogi state were fed and lodged in hotel from my purse. I paid for chattered bus to take us round the state and the report of the survey was unveiled in a media conference in Abuja.
I also led and sponsored more team to Bayelsa and Ondo states for similar media assessment tour.
Aside this, I initiated social media handles, I developed websites and other tools for the development of organization.
HOW NGIJ WAS HIJACKED
One of the dangerous trend social media have thrown into Media Profession is the role of Bloggers in information dissemination.
Sadly, many bloggers in Nigeria parade themselves as journalists, despite the fact that not all bloggers are journalists.
Many of these Bloggers plagiarize at will and without permission. And they shun out fake news without feeling guilty.
These are some of the reality I discovered when I mandated anybody who wanted to join NGIJ must first be a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ.
Some of them were not happy with me and they found succor in my friend, Abdulraman Aliagan.
I actually appointed Aliagan as my Secretary in 2017. Though, I suspect Aliagan may have been nursing the coup to hijack NGIJ before then, but he couldn’t gather the sagacity to execute it until late 2019 when I brought in another old friend and university mate, Bolaji Israel
I appointed Bolaji as my Vice president because he claimed he had experience with Daily Independent newspapers. But regrettably, Bolaji on two different occasions, exhibited unprofessional conduct.
For instance, he was to confirm a story concerning a popular first generation bank.
Less than 24 hours after the story was published, Aliagan and Bolaji issued a press statement, debunking the story. As if this was not enough, Aliagan removed me from the NGIJ social media platforms. Even though I created the platforms and made him an administrator.
Ever since then, Aliagan had started recruiting non-qualified people, untrained bloggers into the organization I founded with my resources..
The duo of Aliagan and Bolaji have been issuing all sorts of negative comments and statements against me, thinking that will stop me from coming for the registration document.
They even tried to drag my wife, who apparently had no idea of what was happening in NGIJ into the matter.
THE POLICE CONNECTION
In the middle of 2020, I wrote a petition to the Force Criminal Investigation Department and the police invited Aliagan but he declined to honour police invitation.
They visited his house but found out that he had gone into hiding. The police also invited Barrister Lambe who confirmed how I gave him the registration contract and how I sent him the money instalmentally.
He promised to produce Aliagan but failed to do so as he never return to the station after he left that day.
I submitted similar petition to the Department of State Service, DSS.
A month later, Aliagan showed up with some lawyers who tried to intimidate the police that the matter is a civil case and that police should hand off.
He was said to have came in company of Ahmad Isa of Berekete Radio station in Abuja. Ahmad Isa waded into the matter and brought the two of us to a life show in Abuja. We both presented our case and listeners raised comments.
Aliagan was found guilty for betraying the trust that made me allowed him access to the registration documents and he promised to reconcile with me. Unfortunately, he has not done that.
For fear of using the name of the organization for other purposes, I instructed my legal partner to file a petition to the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC so as to deregister the organization and I personally took it to the CAC Headquarters in Abuja.
This, I shall purse to a logical conclusion as the process of withdrawing the certificate is in the offing
This is my story.
This clarification becomes necessary to alert media and other stakeholders about the current state of the NGIJ which was found with good and noble intentions, but which unfortunately has been hijacked and derailed.
Abydeen is the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Investigation Media Limited, publishers of Security Monitor. [email protected]