@Saatah to @Ayourb on #OritsejaforGate : No one is entitled to be ignorant (A Rejoinder)

by Saath Nubari

I came across this quote from the Pope himself!—Pope John Paul II: “Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn’t misuse it”. It doesn’t have anything to do with the issues I’m about to discuss, but I just had to share—if you understand what I mean.

Social media is on fire as I write this. “Pastor Ayo bought weapons”, “GEJ is arming Boko Haram”, “GEJ is dividing this country along religious lines”, these are some of the derivatives you’ll get from twitter conversations, regarding the seized private jet with a $9.3 million luggage by our neighbours down south, South Africa. After reading a tweet from Cheta Nwanze that says “One of the problems with the democratisation of talking (Twitter) is that it gives people a chance to scream on issues they know nothing about”, I decided to take the “sidon look” posture on this particular issue. I instead talked about GMO’s, me cooking my native soup and some other uninteresting stuff till I came across an article titled “Pastor Oritsejafor Should Resign and Face the Music” on YNaija.com, “The Jonathan Government Goes Rogue; as Oritsejafor Hides Behind one Finger” on Omojuwa.com and SaharaReporters.com by Ayobami Oyalowo.

Ayobami Oyalowo passed his opinion to us as a fact, and as the American politician and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan will put it, “Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts”.

In the fifth paragraph of his article, he said, “When the passengers luggage were checked, officials of SA Revenue Service (sars), found undeclared raw cash of $9.3 million on the passengers. On board one of the seized aircrafts was also an Abuja-based Israeli man, Eyal Mesika, whom we were told was the only man with the combination to open the lock on the suit cases containing the cash to be laundered or used to purchase illegal arms by the other of some unnamed persons in the Nigerian Government”.

As at the time of writing this piece, the South African government has yet to give out any information saying the seized cash was being “Laundered” or “used to purchase illegal arms” on the order “of some unnamed persons in the Nigerian Government”.

The information available to most of us is that an investigation is ongoing—but Ayobami is so sure that the money in question was being laundered or being used to purchase illegal arms, that I began to wonder if he was hired as the lead investigator.

In the sixth paragraph of his article he continued to deliver more “facts”. “One amazing fact is that the Nigerian government has maintained a curious silence since the scandal broke on September 5th when South African law enforcement agents confiscated $9.3 million from the two private jets. If Sahara Reporters did not blow the lid on the illegality, I doubt if ordinary Nigerians would have known the kind of gang we currently parade as political and religious leaders”.

First of all, with the way Ayobami has continued to emphasise on the “illegality” of this transaction, you won’t be wrong if you pass him off as a lawyer. The thing is Ayobami is not a lawyer, but like most Nigerians, he is a specialist in everything, from a specialist in how to procure arms to a specialist in the legalities involved in the arms transaction. Ayobami made mention of the government maintaining a “curious silence”. Is Ayobami claiming that he is unaware of the government coming out to defend the transaction and even releasing data on it? I find it hard to believe he didn’t know about this since he has been very good in dishing out “facts” only he seems to have.

Paragraph eight says, “The arrested passengers apparently told officials they were acting on behalf of the Nigerian Intelligence service, and they provided documentation confirming they had come to South Africa to buy weapons. However, the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, which has to approve the import and export of any weapon as well as issue permit for such transactions, was not aware of any applications in this case. It is also not clear whether the Israeli passenger was an intelligence operative or an arms dealer”.

This paragraph just succeeded in contradicting his “facts” in previous paragraphs where he stressed on the illegality of the transaction. According to Vanguard, “the South African Government only faulted the “non-declaration” of the cash by the delegation from Nigeria”; “The Federal Government has submitted relevant data and documents on the transaction to South Africa” and “The technical details on security matters, which necessitated the deal had been availed South Africa for screening”. Taking all these into consideration, I can’t help but wonder what Ayobami plans to gain by his brazen distortion of the situation at hand.

Ayobami also talked about the NCACC not being aware of any application in this case. According to the National Conventional Arms Control Committee in terms of the National Conventional Arms Control Act, “No person may trade in conventional arms to render foreign military assistance unless that person is registered with the Chief Directorate Conventional Arms Control (CDCAC) and is in possession of a permit authorised by the committee and issued by the DCAC. Permits are required for armaments development and manufacturing, marketing, contracting, exporting, importing or transferring (conveyance) of conventional arms which includes; weapons, munitions, vessels (land, sea and air) designed for war , articles of war and related systems, components, technologies, dual-use goods services.”. There are so many explanations for why the NCACC was not “aware of any application in this case” but Ayobami didn’t think it was necessary to find out if credible explanations existed or not.

In paragraph twelve Ayobami decided to safely conclude: “We can safely conclude therefore that the arms deal was supposed to be a black market operation and therefore an illegal arm purchase. Such arms could end up anywhere either in the hands of the Niger Delta militants, political thugs and assassins, or even the dreaded Boko Haram militants…your guess is as good as mine”. Funny enough, in paragraph nine of his article, he said “A spokesman for South Africa’s National Prosecution Authority disclosed that the country’s investigators found the Nigerian arms buyers with invoices from two South African firms called Tier One and ESD. The invoices were for armament and a helicopter. I have no idea whatsoever on how the arms black market operate, but isn’t it funny that they had invoices? Maybe black marketers now issue receipts for weapon purchase.

Well, Ayobami wasn’t done spewing lies—sorry, “facts”. In the paragraphs that followed, he made sure to tell us that “After much hush hush, it finally emerged that the bombardier jet involved in the illegal money laundering and purchase of black market arms belonged to Pastor Ayodele Joseph Oritsejafor”.

He made this assertion based on the statement released by the church on behalf of the pastor. I happen to have the statement with me, and for the umpteenth time I’ve gone through that statement, I’ve never for once come across any phrase, clause, or even an idiomatic expression saying that the said jet belonged to Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor. I will make use of the quote Ayobami used to jump to this conclusion. “On behalf of Pastor Oritsejafor, we can confirm that although he holds an interest in Eagle air, the aircraft in question is not operated by Pastor Oritsejafor. The aircraft was leased to, and is operated by Green Coast Produce Limited since August 2.”

This statement is self-explanatory, but I’ll explain it, again, to Mr Ayobami. The jet is not owned by Pastor Ayo, he has “interest” in Eagle Air which in turn leased out the plane—let me break it down again. You know how landlords rent apartment to tenants for a period of time? Mr Ayobami, that’s what that statement means. You might want to cling to your “facts”, we don’t want it.

Mr. Ayobami, when next you plan on writing an opinion piece, remember to read these words with all sincerity: “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant”—Harlan Ellison, and next time you try to pass your opinion as facts, remember “Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts”– Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Keep calm people, Mr Ayobami wasn’t done drowning us with his “facts” he also said “Another issue is does Pastor Oritsejafor own more than one jet? In 2012, he claimed that members of his congregation presented him with the gift of a jet. However, the registration number of the jet detained by South African authorities differs from the registration details of the jet purchased by Mr. Oritsejafor’s congregants.” Mr. Ayobami, Pastor Ortitsejafor has “interest” in Eagle Air which seems to “own” the aircraft that was leased and was been operated by Green Coast Produce Limited since August 2. That’s why the registration details are different from the jet Pastor Ayo’s congregants purchased for their pastor. Do you understand everything now sir? I hope you do, because it has taken me a great deal of time to explain things to you today.

Well people, Mr Ayobami gave me what I had been waiting for in his 20 something paragraph article, he did it! “How will the Federal Government of PDP led by Goodluck Jonathan handle this case? Will they prove their detractors right that the government of Jonathan have always known, collaborated with and have been covering up sponsors of terror in Nigeria, or will President Jonathan rise to the occasion this time?” Since Ayobami is a card carrying member of the APC, I knew somewhere, somehow, the President would be dragged into this and he didn’t even try to prove me wrong.

There is a clear narrative from what is going on, but the theory being pushed forward by some mischievous people is that Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor is somehow seriously involved in the purchase of weapons. This is coming right on the heels of some allegations being made that Christians are behind the Boko Haram menace. It is appalling to see people with access to information deciding to otherwise misinform the public while at the same time stoking ethnic/religious tension in a country already divided along ethnic and religious lines. Freedom of speech should be encouraged, but as the Danish philosopher, theologian and poet put it “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use “.

Mr. Ayobami, when next you plan on writing an opinion piece, remember to read these words with all sincerity: “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant”—Harlan Ellison, and next time you try to pass your opinion as facts, remember “Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts”– Daniel Patrick Moynihan

You guys remember that quote from the pope himself? Well here is one from Oscar Wilde “By giving us the opinion of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community”

Saatah Nubari tweets from @Saatah

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


Comments (4)

  1. Wow You did Justice to this article. The poor boy is really ignorant. He dishes out what his paymaster ask him to.

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