Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Internet Mob Rules

opinion

THE internet is the eighth wonder of the world. It has erased the borders of nations, closed the gap of time and space, removed the veil of privacy and turned the world into a global village. No invention has affected humanity and impacted the way we live and work like the internet.

The information age has advanced the course of man as no other age before it.

Like many good things, there's also the good, the bad and the ugly side to the internet revolution. It has given unrestrained access to the social media, to miscreants and availed them weapons of mass destruction that now pose mortal danger to the credibility of innocent persons, especially celebrated persons across the social spectrum.

Negative bloggers on the internet are the terrorists and suicide bombers who use the weapons of social media to steal, kill and destroy their innocent victims, against whom they nurse some grudge.

These dangerous hacks are under the influence of a malevolent spirit and now form part of the ugly side of the global information flow that we have to deal with like natural disasters. They are the nightmares of information managers.

The sad part is that genuine men of God like Rev. Chris Okotie, whose teaching ministry regularly dispenses revelatory knowledge of the word of God, have become the perennial victim of junk journalists bloggers and hacks in the social media mob.

The reverend's case is particularly pathetic because over the course of his ministry for more than a quarter of a century he had, and continues to be a subject of relentless onslaught, which Satan wrought by the hands of junk journalists in different formats.

Having known Rev. Okotie for more than 30 years, I have seen him evolved from a budding recording artiste, into a world class preacher, political leader and devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. I am particularly fascinated by his wholesale commitment to his unique commission, which is why one is troubled by the unbridled, shameful assault on his person; ministry and life in general.

The mob will stop at nothing to cast the reverend in bad light at the slightest opportunity.

Although for 22years running, Rev. Okotie' s church, the Household of God, has been making annual donations of millions of naira to charities through its GRACE programme, our celebrated bloggers deliberately ignored this exemplary effort because it does not fit into their satanic agenda.

This good work is not mentioned by the mob network. For instance, December 9, 2012, the church gave out about N6.5million to charities, including awardees, the late scholar and politician, Prof. Ishaya Audu, the beneficiary of our KARIS Award for last year.

Instead, our social networkers quietly steal into the church service to search for scandals and, when none exits, invent one. Celebrities who attend our church are trailed and monitored closely for any slip that is good enough for junk media.

The latest stock in trade is to listen to Rev. Okotie's sermons or homilies, distort them and turn them into what Apostle Paul calls "another gospel," usually some blasphemy designed to portray the reverend as a heretical preacher who has lost his bearing.

They deliberately align Okotie's ministry with the very Satan of whom he is an implacable adversary.

As you read this, a causal remark made by Rev Okotie in response to a parishioner's question on the propriety of Christians having tattoos was twisted to portray the man of God as endorsing the untoward practice. One Linda Ikeji used her blog to promote this falsehood.

When a refutal was sent to her, she refused to publish it because invariably it would call to question the credibility of her medium which enjoys considerable following because it is one of those mills whose offering is consumed by the gullible public.

In a craze to stay popular on the web and maintain a huge following, bloggers like this often do not bother to ascertain the veracity of stories before publishing.

They get away with this professional misconduct because they are not bound by any ethical standard; all they care about is money made from inflicting untold injuries on the integrity of credible citizens.

This is the down side of the social media. But ultimately, purveyors of falsehood do not last because conscience is an open wound that only truth can heal. You may fool the people some of the time but you cannot fool them all the time.

One day monkey will go to the market and will not return, is a local adage. That should be the consolation for victims of the social media mob like Okotie and others who are suffering in silence .The days of the jackals are surely numbered.

One last word. When I pioneered gossip journalism in this country in the 80s with a weekly entertainment column in the PUNCH, it enjoyed immense popularity among readers, not because it blackmailed anyone, but for creating fun out of the lifestyles of celebrities.

Today's practitioners of gossip journalism are professional blackmailers who extort money from celebrities on pain of death.

They've thus taken this interesting side kick of journalism to another level entirely, by spreading moral terror and morbid fear among celebrities.

Welcome to the era of the blogger-suicide bomber of the internet! It is the spirit of the age.

Mr. LADI AYODEJI is Rev. Okotie's publicist.

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