Jackson Ude is the publisher of Pointblank News. From his comfort zone in the United States, he throws stones into various arenas back home in Nigeria. But having worked very closely with the Goodluck Jonathan administration as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the former President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, it would appear that he is, incurably, partisan towards the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Besides, it is even possible that Jackson Ude is a card-carrying member of the PDP and, therefore, on that basis, and hiding behind the façade of publishing and donning the toga pf an investigative journalist, he conveniently selects his targets as it pleases him from the camp of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and sympathisers of the governing party, conceivably, in order to mitigate his deep sense of loss on account of the 2015 defeat of his party, which marked his untimely exit from government.
I have followed very closely his peculiar type of journalism that borders on the farcical. It would appear that Jackson Ude relishes in both the salacious and the preposterous genre. He comes across as an impulsive purveyor of half-baked news; and where he finds it difficult to use his online news portal-Pointblank News to present what would have been a piece of new story because of perceived laziness on the part of the platform to do a thorough investigation in the fashion of, for examples, Premium Times and The Cable, he resorts to either his Facebook page or Twitter handle to misrepresent or disseminate mundane, mendacious and ridiculous pieces of information.
In his 2.15 pm September 7, 2020 tweets @jacksonpbn via his iPhone, Jackson Ude put out the following hogwash: “After collecting $18.84 million from the inflated contract to secure the 87-kilometre Trans-Forcados Pipeline (TFP), this is how Capt. Idahosa Wells Okunbo of Ocena Marine spends the money. Won’t pay taxes, and then gives N5 million to APC as ‘Thank You’.”
He had gone ahead to upload some transaction details on Ocean Marine Solution’s Stanbic Bank account with transaction dates mostly 2018 purported to the company’s transactions in respect of its Trans Forcados Pipeline (TFP) contract, which had not been entered into as of the time of those purported transactions. It was very convenient for Jackson Udeh to do that and I was not in the least surprised that he made himself available to some desperate politicians and paymasters in this season of partisan frenzy when some forces are working round the clock, while clutching at their last straws, to diminish the integrity of their perceived enemy or enemies.
It is not also startling that this kind of misinformation is being peddled at this time when the name of Capt. Idahosa Wells Okunbo (Capt. Hosa, for short) is being mentioned in the tension-soaked governorship politics of Edo State. It is common knowledge that Capt. Hosa is solidly backing the candidate of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, against the candidate of the PDP, Governor Godwin Obaseki. At the weekend, Capt. Hosa declared in an interview with some journalists that he believed in the capacity of Ize-Iyamu to deliver the good and had vowed to spend his last kobo on realizing Ize-Iyamu’s governorship ambition.
Therefore, it was not unexpected that there would be some fight back after the interview from the other camp. It is also expected that many more propaganda stunts would be deployed in the remaining few days in their calculated and frantic effort to tar the reputation and integrity that had taken the business mogul years of painstaking prudence to build. The other camp knows that Capt. Hosa is not a candidate in this election, but it knows that his support for the APC candidate is humongous and quite significant.
And, whereas, Capt. Hosa and those who do business with him would know that he had not been involved in any sleazy deals, how many outsiders or members of the public who are undiscerning would be able to know that and appreciate his fidelity to value addition, due diligence and trustworthiness? It is because of this set of people that I have decided to pen this gratuitous response.
It is important to note, however, that Jackson Ude’s misrepresentation was not the first in the series of this obvious propagation of malice. An inconsequential blogger – nurajos.blogspot.com – had posted some lines not too dissimilar from Ude’s gobbledygook, thus eliciting a rejoinder by four out of the five members (except Capt. Hosa) of the Board of Directors of Ocean Marine Solution who dismissed the report about crisis in the management over alleged misappropriation of $18 million by the Chairman, Capt. Hosa, as totally false in every material particular.
While, it is unnecessary to regurgitate the point-by-point demolition by the four directors of the mischievous narrative, one may assume without necessarily conceding that even if there was an expenditure of that magnitude by Capt. Hosa that did not pass through the due process of board approval, who should have raised the alarm? The board of Directors of the company, of course. But the directors had since given Capt. Hosa a clean bill. It is not the business of some meddlesome interlopers and their hirelings, like Jackson Ude, who continue to use their privileged position, which they occupy at the moment to deploy Edo State fund in the promotion of their personal interest and advantage, to ask question about the running of a private business.
On this occasion, the Managing Director of OMSL, Rear Admiral Ameen Ikioda (retd.) had forcefully responded to Jackson Ude’s salvo in a widely publicized statement titled: “ATTEMPT TO TARNISH THE REPUTATION OF OCEAN MARINE SOLUTIONS (OMSL) AND CAPT. HOSA OKUNBO BY JACKSON UDE”. Ikioda said: “Our attention has once again been drawn to another, in the series of orchestrated, sponsored and malicious media onslaughts and blackmails against our company, OMSL and our respected chairman, Capt. Hosa Okunbo.”
The entire statement, which put the issues in clear perspectives reads: “In the latest tirade tweeted by one Jackson Ude, whose trade in stock has been to fabricate utter falsehood and disseminate via multiple social media platforms, the pen-for-hire writer alluded to an alleged Trans Forcados Pipeline (TFP) contract, and attached bank statements from January to February, 2018 purported to reflect our transactions.
“It is very laughable that Ude and his sponsors, as well as those mischievously escalating the fake news, clearly got it wrong, as their fabrication has holes in it.
“Blinded by mischief and pull-him-down syndrome, they ought to have known that OMSL was not in contractual relationship with TFP as at February 2018. That assertion is completely false.
“It should be stated that Jackson Ude is in the trade of tarnishing Nigerian brands with unsubstantiated contents. He had unsuccessfully attempted in 2015 to scandalise our company and Capt. Okunbo by creating a non-existent story linking us with the activities of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke while in office.
“Only weeks ago, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had to petition the Inspector-General Police, demanding a thorough investigation of the blogger after publishing malicious story, in which he alleged that the suspended acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, facing a presidential probe, told the investigative panel that he gave N4bn to Osinbajo. Not only has Magu debunked the claim; the panel has also released statement putting a lie to Ude’s allegation.
“This is calling on unsuspecting public to be wary of Ude’s shenanigans, as we also wish to sound a note of warning to all those who have made it their pastime to sponsor malicious write-ups, tweets and online publications against OMSL and our chairman, that their day of reckoning is not far away.
“We have put our legal team on notice to deal with such malicious write-ups.
“We also urge the general public to kindly disregard the Ude mischievous tweets and similar others, for what they are: blatantly false and malicious.”
Indeed, the good news is that a vast majority of Edo people and Nigerians know the truth. The truth is that whereas some people are appropriating and privatizing Edo State funds for personal aggrandizement, Capt. Hosa is deploying his God-given wealth for the uplift of his people. And whereas, Capt. Hosa is Godsend, his traducers who have chosen to fight the man that God has not fought, are on a voyage of self-immolation. Can they challenge God? Or can they change the destiny of a good-hearted man whom God has chosen to bless beyond curse. It is only God who knows the reasons He has been this kind and merciful to Capt. Hosa. Are Jackson Ude and co. and their paymasters reading this?
▪︎ Sylvanus Ainofenokhai is based in Benin, Edo State.