Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. He can be reached on [email protected]
The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila who was convicted in the state of Georgia in the United States in 2007 for $25,000 theft on Thursday lectured journalists on ethics, honesty and truth.
Speaking during the inauguration of the newly elected officials of the House of Representatives Press Corps on Thursday at the National Assembly, Gbajabiamila tasked journalists to always be truthful in their reportage, saying it would promote good governance.
According to the ex-convict, journalists must contribute to the well-being of the society through their coverage. He said they have the capacity to shape different narratives in the society, hence the need to be truthful.
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In addition, he tasked journalists to ensure balanced and objective reportage to avoid being one-sided, saying doing so would enhance the business of news reporting. He said when Nigerians read stories that are not true, the media would lose credibility.
He admonished the newly elected officials of the House Press Corps to always remember their oath of office in carrying out their functions. He said the leadership of the House under hin would ensure a conducive environment for all journalists covering the activities of the House.
He challenged journalists to do away with the bad eggs among them, which he said could be found in any institution or profession.
“We talk about reforms here and there; there has to be reform in your work too. Just recently, we had people from the media come and apologised for false reporting.
“You have the potential of even killing your business in a newspaper house, because in a society if you’re sued, that’s the end of your job. So, what does it pay anybody, knowing especially that the story you’re publishing is false?
“My own is an admonition, and there’s nothing wrong with admonition. Get me right, we want you to report the truth. Whether it is negative or not, one thing is just to make sure it’s the truth. Whether it goes against the House, it goes against the Senate, it doesn’t matter. But let it be the truth,” he said.
The newly sworn-in chairman of the corps, Grace Ike, in her remark, thanked the Speaker for attending the inauguration. She said as journalists, they would always ensure that their reports are truthful, balanced and objective.
Mr. Gbajabiamila was convicted in 2007 in the United States for stealing money belonging to his client and then reimbursing it only after he was caught.
The certified true copy of the conviction of the man who has now risen to become of the most powerful Nigerians has been released.
Court documents show that Femi Gbajabiamila admitted “he accepted payment of $25,000 as settlement of a client’s personal injury claims, deposited those funds in his attorney trust account in January 2003, failed to promptly disclose those funds to his client, withdrew those funds for his personal use, closed his practice and moved out of the country.”
Although he eventually paid back the money to his client in 2003, he admitted that his conduct violated the law in Georgia and was banned from practicing law in Georgia for 36 months for theft and perjury.
Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos state, who is nursing a tall ambition to replace President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 is known in Nigeria as a Godfather and has been accused of mega theft and of snatching properties all over Lagos, using one land snatched from a school to set up a television station, Television Continental (TVC) with stolen money.
Tinubu who continues to operate like a drug baron has the loyalty of his foot soldiers, many of whom returned home with him from the United States. He has made some governors and others state or federal legislators to compensate them.