Ikechukwu Ukaegbu

The resurfacing of corruption allegation against the DG NIMASA sparks of nothing short of mischief. Social media has been awashed with the fake news that N1.5 trillion, $9 Million looted funds were trace to NIMASA Boss, Bashir Jamoh’s Personal Account. However, what is more nauseating is the circulation of this false and stale information by social media users without any form of fact-checking. No wonder experts have stated that the third world war may be triggered by the misuse of the internet. About a year ago, Jackson Ude published a damaging article accusing Mr Jamoh of corruption. Ude is a self-acclaimed journalist and lapdog for the opposition and other disgruntled elements. He has carved a niche for blackmailing and maligning government and its top officials, Owing to his innocence, the NIMASA DG immediately issued a rebuttal and to further validate his incorruptibility, wrote to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) requesting that the allegation levelled against him be investigated; a gesture which was applauded by the public and viewed as a bold move and first of its kind.

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Meanwhile, investigations conducted since last year by notable sources revealed that the allegations were nothing but an outright falsehood and mistaken identity. The analysis of screenshot of chats shared by Ude showed that the report was actually against a retired employee of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Hamza Jamo, who happened to also be a representative of Talent Enterprise, a Dubai-based training firm. Forensic analysis also showed that the number shared by Ude belonged to the NNPC former staff and not the NIMASA DG but Ude in his quest for mischief refused to conduct due diligence before publishing the disparaging report. Also, the Dubai-based company, which the former NNPC staff represents went on to issue a statement denying ever having any business relationship with NIMASA or with its Director General. It is also because the allegations against the NIMASA boss by security agencies were discovered to be false that the EFCC never went after him. Instead, a manhunt was launched for Ude for his detrimental lies. As usual, he cowardly fled. From a distance outside Nigeria, he throws stones big enough to destroy others integrity. Jamoh is not his first or only victim. Ude has targeted many innocent people. He has never proved his allegations. When sued for reputational damage, he is not found to be brought to book.

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The recycling of the stale information and fake news a year after it was circulated for ill-intentioned purposes is unfortunate and tactless. It is not surpising that these attacks came at a time Jamoh planned to contest the Kaduna State Governorship post. That it coincided with this political outing revealed an attempt by saboteurs. But he is not going to be on the ballot. Making the spread of the fake information at the heels of the suspension of the Accountant General is a futile effort designed to make the Buhari Government look corrupt.

But despite these continued attempts by the likes of Ude and his sponsors to distract him, Jamoh has excelled as the NIMASA DG. His appointment by the President is indicative of his capacity to perform excellently especially with his more than 30 years of experience in the maritime sector. Not only has he integrated national security and waterways protection infrastructure in the country, he initiated the SHADE Gulf of Guinea project which is playing an active role in tackling sea piracy. It was following this genius initiative that the International Maritime Bureau struck out Nigeria from its piracy list. In addition, due to his innovative leadership, the number of seafarers has increased with over 2, 000 Nigerians trained under the National Seafarers Development Programme while security to over 22 port facilities in Nigeria has substantially improved.

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No doubt, these immeasurable, achievements in just one year has led to enhanced developments in Nigerian maritime industry. Understandably, his opponents are unhappy and have resorted to adversarial antics to soil his name and make nonsense of his feats. Nigerians must stand up against fake news and its harmful effect. The use of yellow journalists to attack and undermine honest as well as passionate government officials who are making giant strides in their areas of appointments to move Nigeria forward should also be totally condemned. As the DG NIMASA continues to write his name in the sands of time, let those who are after him or his job know that their schemes can only end in futility.

Ikechukwu Ukaegbu, is a Maritime Safety Analyst and resides in Abuja, FCT.

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