Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has described and untrue, reports published in some newspapers and online media, that it had launched a manhunt for one-time chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu.
A national newspaper had published a report that the former INEC boss was being hunted by EFCC after he refused to honour “several” invitations to him by the commission.
But a source at the commission, told The UNION that no such manhunt was ever lunched for Iwu.
According to our source, Prof. Iwu is not wanted by the commission.
Our source also stated that a manhunt was usually the commission’s last resort if an invited person fails to honour an invitation extended to him.
He said that in the instant case the commission did not even invite him adding that if the Commission has any issues to clarify with for the former INEC boss, or anyone, it would send the person an invitation and not to embark on a manhunt.
The UNION also gathered that Prof. Iwu had, on the day the false manhunt report was published, travelled through Abuja and Lagos airports on his way to chair a conference on Lassa fever in Lagos.
“How could anyone say Prof is on the run when he travelled from through the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport in Abuja to Lagos and back through the same route. He flew in a public aeroplane and also chaired a public conference in Lagos. How could someone who has gone into hiding be at the same time chairing a public conference which was also covered by journalists. Does someone who is in hiding show up publicly? Even the day after, he was at his office here in Abuja. So, how could he have gone into hiding, or is on the run?
“I think the media should do better than it is doing. There is so much hoax and false reports in our media that at times I wonder what foreigners who read our newspapers think of journalism in Nigeria”, a family source told The UNION.
Condemning the false report, a friend of the Iwu family, Dr. Okey Edelah, said the report was a hoax spread by Saharareporters for the benefit of its public.
“It is imperative we raise an alarm on the silence that everyone has learned to practice on the trendy pattern online of putting anything as news, even when it is blatantly false. Sahara Reporters (SR) and other mushroom online papers have made it a habit of reporting news that is unverified, but once printed by the tabloid blackmail entity is taken as gospel.
“I was one of such blind followers of SR until a couple days ago, when they reported that Prof. Maurice M. Iwu, the former INEC Chairman was in hiding and hence a manhunt was on for his arrest. Apparently, this was spun from a newspaper’s vague report about a former INEC Chairman being mentioned in the course of an investigation. Now, while the newspaper was careful to state whatever it is they had as they may have received it, Sahara Reporters had to sensationalize it by bringing in a falsity about a “manhunt””, he said.
According to him, what makes it ridiculous and downright mischievous is the fact that the “hunted” man was at a public event in Lagos on Monday, a conference on Lassa Fever as reported on page 35, of The Guardian newspapers, on Thursday April 28, 2016. The Guardian, a reputable newspaper, reported with a picture of the erudite Professor standing with equally outstanding professionals who attended the conference. Surely, Iwu who resides in Abuja took a public airline to Lagos, stayed in a publicly known hotel and interacted publicly with a lot of people. While in Lagos, he attended a Neimeth International Pharmaceutical, Ltd. board meeting, which is a publicly listed company. Upon his return to Abuja he also visited the ministry of Agriculture at the instance of the Minister of Agriculture. Interestingly, he came back through Abuja Airport. Throughout all these activities in the week of April 24th, 2016, the man being “hunted” went about his business publicly and privately.
“It came as a shock when in a matter of minutes, the internet was flooded with news of manhunt for Prof. Maurice Iwu, people were initially incredibly concerned and were later pleasantly surprised that he had a normal day of going from home to work and back on the same, 29th of April, 2016.
“What those of us who showed concern grew worried about was how easily social media has become a weapon of both mass and individual destruction used by these mushroom news establishments that simply feed off an unscrupulous media pit-stop like SR, thereby tarnishing people’s reputations and making our law enforcement agencies appear inept.
“There is no warrant for Prof. Iwu’s arrest. He has not been called nor has he been reached in writing.
“I write about this because we don’t know who is next. This man’s numbers and home address are the same and not changed, he is going about his business and yet if we live in a country where a media outlet sets off falsehood that gets repeated numerously enough to start convincing people that a lie is now a truth, then we are in grave trouble! If this trend goes unchecked the debtor will become the creditor and certainly the predator maybe sold to us all as the prey”, Dr. Edelah argued.