Kemi Olunloyo and the Burden of Responsibility

Before you go further in reading this article, let me clearly state that there’s a chance the title would turn out to be inappropriate. Maybe if this were an English exam, after reading the passage and suggesting this title, I would be entitled to a crude ‘X’. That being said, this article touches on the controversy around Kemi Olunloyo, who until recently was known only by internet-savvy Nigerians. I may not write what you’re expecting, so please suspend any existing assumptions and read on.

Let’s start with a little background illustration. Kemi’s online profile states she’s an internationally trained journalist with decades of journalistic experience. She recently published a letter she claimed was sent to her by a member of Salvation Ministries, a swelling church in Port Harcourt. In this “letter”, the writer alleged that the church’s lead pastor, David Ibiyeomie, was having an extramarital affair with Iyabo Ojo and even gave the said mistress a car. She further claimed that Iyabo was using “juju” (“black magic”) to cling to the pastor. After some brigades of Nigeria’s e-army descended on Pastor Ibiyeomie, he got the police involved, Kemi was arrested, charged to court and is presently resident at the Port Harcourt prison.

Unlike the recent case of Audu Maikori, Kemi’s arrest and detention did not yield much reaction from Nigerians. However, after images surfaced showing her being led to court in prison uniform, reaction levels began to build up. While some persons argue that she is being unjustly mistreated for stepping on the wrong toes, some others use Ibiyeomie’s Christianity to deride him. This later set point to Jesus’ life as a reason for the pastor to “forgive her”, and some go as far as questioning his Christianity, asking why he could not swallow the allegations “if he claims to be a pastor”. For some others with existing dislike of “rich” pastors, this case is an example of “businessmen called pastors” using the law to oppress dissenters. Of course, there is another set defending the pastor.

Before anything more, let’s look at Kemi Olunloyo. The 52-year-old daughter of a former Oyo State governor has a track record of controversial posts. There is an online record of Kemi saying Pastor Enoch Adeboye and Bishop David Oyedepo are gay partners. She recently accused former president Obasanjo of killing her brother “with juju”. These posts are joined by other run-ins with several Nigerian celebrities and anyone unlucky to cross her path. She touts her credentials as an “investigative journalist” as some sort of validation to lend credence to her stories. However, I think anyone who can accuse Adeboye and Oyedepo of being gay partners has a credibility issue. If you accuse them of fraud, I can be pushed to concede the possibility of plausibility. However, when plausibility is overstretched, even the faithful becomes sceptical.

When I decided to write this article, I contacted a lawyer to get a legal opinion on the case. This was because of many posts I saw online complaining about the treatment given to Kemi. My lawyer friend said there are laws to protect journalists and Kemi is presumed innocent until investigation of her publication proves otherwise. However, this lawyer informed me that from a legal perspective, since it is a criminal case (cybercrime-related) being prosecuted by the police and bail had not been previously granted, there was nothing wrong in being led to court in prison clothes. “Nothing wrong” in this sense does not negate the fact that some persons detained in prison custody appear in court in “normal” clothes. Since lawyers tend to disagree on the law, I would hold this information as valid until another lawyer argues otherwise.

Now I return to those who think Christianity is an excuse to tolerate rubbish. Knowing Kemi’s antecedents, I am assuming that Ibiyeomie is innocent of the allegations, although I would shamefully apologize if this assumption should turn out as incorrect. In fact, many of those preaching “forgiveness” over this matter have implicitly accepted that Kemi’s claim is maliciously false. Screaming that Pastor Ibiyeomie should forgive is easy when it’s not your reputation on the line. Kemi claimed he is an adulterer, effectively making him a fraud since he preaches against sin. Many of the persons abusing him for not forgiving her did not see anything wrong with casting judgement on him when the accusation first surfaced.

As for those quoting Jesus, let me say that the same Jesus who taught against violent reactions later advised his disciples to buy swords because there would surely be times when running away would not work. Even Paul when facing possible mistrial, chose to appeal to the Roman Caesar, thereby using the laid down procedure of the Roman justice system. I am a big fan of forgiveness, but I am neither stupid nor quixotic, so I know that there are times when overlooking assaults would only result in more. Seeking redress lawfully does not make a person less of a Christian. Is it not better to follow the law than to take laws into one’s hands? If Kemi had published this nonsense against some certain clerics, she may have been forced to seek police protection for her life.

Investigative journalism helps to keep the society alert to hidden ills, and for this reason, investigative journalists should be encouraged. However, investigative work that unearths malpractices is not the same thing as crowd-seeking defamatory tales that invoke journalistic credentials. This latter act is what Kemi appears to embrace. Kemi Olunloyo should ask herself why in a country where a number of persons are annoyed with “rich pastors” and about half the population is Muslim, it took a prison uniform to get some sympathy from the population. Honestly, a look at online posts indicates that many persons, ordinarily uninterested in this present case, are however happy she is behind bars. When you make too many enemies from different sides, you never know who is really fighting you. What if, just what if, some unseen persons she has defamed in the past are adding firewood to her case? We may never know.

Image Credit: amazonsellerslawyer.com

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