Fisayo Soyombo: When A Reporter Becomes Assassin

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By Simeon .A. Fakeye

Fisayo Soyombo in his so-called investigative report defamed Chief Ibrahim Dende Egungbohun known as IBD when he said, “IBD International Hotels, Ilaro, well-known by all and sundry to have been built with proceeds of smuggling” (par 10). But in all of his 4,519 worded two reports, Soyombo would not give at least one evidence to establish his defamation that his target was a smuggler who deals in rice and guns, what a character assassination!

The “Obidient” reporter – Soyombo – was quick to link Chief Ibrahim Dende Egungbohun to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was Peter Obi’s arch rival during the 2023 General Election when he said, “Dende has numerous allies in politics — no less President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for whom he publicly canvassed support in the leadup to the presidential election, and whose delegation to COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai he was on”.

No doubt, the erratic Soyombo was quick to undertake the assassination of one of the pillars of support to President Tinubu, his Principal’s (Peter Obi) political nemesis.

This “fanatic Nigerian” who claimed to be a trained journalist and practising investigator would fail to obtain charge sheet or statement register from Nigeria Customs, who he alleged has arrested Chief Egungbohun severally, especially from the then Service’s spokesperson, Compt Joseph Attah (rtd) to establish the offence for which the Customs had detained Chief Egungbohun. Why would Soyombo rely on hearsay to activate his attacks, if not for pecuniary political gains, to assassinate the character of his target, without regards to the ethics of his supposed investigative journalism profession?

Was Soyombo displaying professionalism in his assumptions that Nigeria Customs were compromised to have released Chief Egungbohun when found not guilty as suspected? Could it be that Soyombo was truly a fanatic as he described himself on his X handle, whose sense of judgment is questionable and biased such that he would always ignore convincing truth, just to give roots to his erratic decisions? Even in the court of law, suspects do gain their freedom when proven not guilty as charged!

In the script prepared for him by the beneficiaries of his concocted piece, Soyombo betrayed his ignorance about the personality of Chief Ibrahim Egungbohun, claiming that “Dende used to import Turkey but he subsequently smuggled guns and his cover was blown; this was around August 2022”.

To call someone a smuggler and refer to him in the same breath as a “licensed clearing and forwarding agent”, showed Soyombo was likely under the influence of intoxicating substance at the time of preparing his toxic write up or probably undergoing a kind of emotional instability.

Alas, the only evidence for this strong character assassination by Soyombo was that “smuggler Jide tells me during our first smuggling trip to Benin, unaware he is conversing with an investigative journalist”.

Who was Jide, the source of Soyombo’s report? Soyombo himself said, “Jide cannot understand why Customs officers let “big-time smugglers” like Dende off the hook but kill “scavenging smugglers” like him.

Jide, apparently, from the quote, was not happy with Chief Egungbohun because Customs did not accord him the same waiver he assumed was been granted to Chief Egungbohun. But the question is, was Chief Egungbohun into smuggling of foreign parboiled rice as told by Soyombo’s ally in defamation trade? The verifiable answer in all sincerity and truthfulness is NO. Hence, this becomes a major evidence that shows that Soyombo was on a mission to assassinate the character of his principal’s political rival.

Only a hardened blackmailer with feeble mindset like Soyombo will brazenly rely solely on the information given by an enemy of his enemy without logical cross-examination!

This character assassin called Fisayo Soyombo noted in his paragraph 28 that smuggling is getting out of hands in Nigeria quoting former President Muhammadu Buhari as saying, “please note that from Lake Chad to Benin Republic is more than 1,600 kilometres, so only God can effectively guard the borders, You need a person who has the energy and the competence to supervise”.

He went further by quoting a report by Society Blog who would point at no evidence, not even half, to establish its libel against the person of Chief Ibrahim Egungbohun that he was into gun running.

Who were the boys that were arrested? Soyombo should have been diligent enough to reveal their identities; at least at the point of parade. Any evidence of the properties of the guns? Where were they charged?

If the operatives who arrested them were accomplice as Soyombo alleged, why should Soyombo also become another accomplice by deliberately refusing to get to the root of the matter and come out with the facts and figures?

Why didn’t he extend his undercover prowess to unravel the gun running ring? He ought to have quoted at least two of the suspects who mentioned Chief Ibrahim Egungbohun as their ring leader. Why the haste in chumming out unsubstantiated and baseless report to deceive innocent Nigerians into believing that Chief Ibrahim Egungbohun – a supporter of President Tinubu – deals in arms and ammunition? A politically motivated character assassination!

Soyombo’s report of his excursion to Benin Republic to see first-hand how rice was being smuggled into Nigeria has shown evidently as a make-believe; He saw thousands of rice in Adja Ouere. Adja Ouere dealers are legitimate business people who wouldn’t sell to retailers. Retailers like Soyombo could only buy from Obelle and Ohunbe while big time dealers in Adja Ouere trade in Cotonou, Porto Novo or Parakou.

Meanwhile, Soyombo himself, like many others he mentioned, had smuggled 100 bags of foreign parboiled rice into Nigeria successfully without any interventions by his target whom he said was responsible for all smuggling activities on the many links roads along Oja-Odan/Adja Ouere axis. What a contradiction!

If Soyombo was truly on the journey he claimed, he should know that there is no “one-way road” for anyone to ply within a kilometer radius in Foursquare roundabout of Oja-Odan”, Yewa North LGA of Ogun State.

Also, what measuring instrument did Soyombo used to ascertain that the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro to Iyana-Egbo is a five kilometer road, if he truly plied the road?

Throughout the report, Soyombo relied on one man’s (Jide) account to assassinate the character of his political enemy – Chief Ibrahim Egungbohun – by tagging him as a smuggler in rice and gun running, a man he hadn’t met in person, never seen engaging in smuggling or abetting smuggling throughout his two term investigative journey.

Soyombo established that his accomplice Jide confessed to be a smuggler of foreign parboiled rice but in all of his 4,519 worded two reports, he failed to show any reliable evidence against Chief Ibrahim Egungbohun as a carrier of the contraband.

Why did Soyombo choose Chief Ibrahim Egungbohun only among myriads of wealthy business men and women from across the “1,600 kilometers” border lines in Nigeria according to his quote on former President Buhari? Moreso, no Customs officer’s name was mentioned.

Unless Soyombo dusts his report sheets to get set to substantiate his acts of character assassination of Chief Egungbohun, it remains a fact that he has a point to score with Chief Ibrahim Egungbohun for a reason best known to him, should he deny political rivalry between his target and his principal, Peter Obi, as his reason for the defamation.

Above all, Soyombo wouldn’t deem it fit to allow Chief Ibrahim Egungbohun say his side of the overwhelming defamations before going to the press.

Soyombo failed the test of basic ethics of journalism – accuracy, fairness and balancing of report.

Could this junk report be the taste of the donors of this assassin called reporter? No way; Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability project (CMEDIA) funded by the MacArthur Foundation will never settle for this kind of report by this so-called investigative reporter.

Who is Ibrahim Dende Egungbohun?

RazorTimes in its May 5, 2022 edition reports that Chief Ibrahim Egungbohun some years after he left secondary school learnt and was given rights to practice as a Carpenter. A profession he practiced diligently at Ebute-Igbooro (Yewa North LGA, Ogun State), Chief Egungbohun evidently trained apprentices who graduated as practicing Carpenters.

“I left the woodwork for Freight Forwarding business which I understudied at the feet of one of the foremost Forwarder in this community in the early 90’s.

“As a licensed Freight Forwarder over time, I become one of the most reliable and trusted name that attracts bigwigs in auto business. For decades, until the coming on board of the present administration, the Federal Government of Nigeria had allowed clearing of automobiles and foreign parboiled rice through the land borders, hence the legitimacy of my registered company which primarily has been into Freight business.

“When the Comptroller General of Customs Ibrahim Hameed Ali (Rtd) resumed office, in line with the decision of the federal government in April 2016, on importation of rice through the land borders, he invited me for “an understanding”.

“As such, I didn’t have a reason to do anything illegal or go against the federal government, even when on January 2017, the ban on vehicle importation through the land borders was also announced, rather, as a law abiding citizen, I shifted my focus to my other legitimate booming businesses.

“I haven’t, and can never be a smuggler as much as I wouldn’t operate outside the premises of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

Revealing the source of his fairly stable financial status, Chief Ibrahim Egungbohun said, long ago, he had learnt the art of diversification of resources.

“More than two decades ago, while many of my contemporaries were still “sleeping”, I have judiciously diversified proceeds of my legitimate freight business into commercial farming, hospitality business, oil and gas, quarry and Construction Company under the following registered firm’s: IBD IMPEX Ltd, IBD Farms, IBD International Hotels, IBD Oil and Gas, and IBD Constructions.

“For those who care to know, when the business was constitutional, I have diversified my proceeds from importation of automobiles and rice wisely.

“When President Muhammad Buhari through the CGC Ali (Rtd) says “stop importation of rice through the land borders, which was followed with the ban of vehicles a year after,” I have no reason to object, in the first place, as I said earlier, I have other profitable businesses that are doing well. More importantly, I have no other country than Nigeria. As a law abiding citizen, I must contribute my quota to make it work. And Nigeria will surely become great again!

“As for those ignorant, because I don’t see them as blackmailer; there’s no way they can blackmail me, are they not those lazy individuals who think they can make it through short cut!

Its ignorance that makes them assume that I am into smuggling.

“Seriously, fake news or outright lies have become one of the most debilitating force against the progress of this country, and with the way things are going, I may consider a strategic way to come in, so that, to an extent, together, we can reduce the effects of fake news in our society”, Chief Ibrahim Dende Egungbohun stated.

 

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