“Nitwitted” Evidences: Of Sanusi/Yaro Sex Scandal – Aare Ago

There used to be an “era” in this country when Journalism was Altruism. It was bold and purely truthful. It was the career for many brave and patriotic citizens, who were resolute in the defense of not just Nigeria, but also of every national whose image had been presented under the searchlight of public opinions. Irrespective of the persona of the histrions, the truth (and nothing but the truth) formed the crux of every news item that was ever served to the public. What mattered was the story. Not the hits. Not the money. Not even the showered accolades by the public. As luring as it was to present hit stories, writers were brave to either walk away from debauching pieces or stick to the end to unravel the truth. Many techniques, such as deductive reasoning where validity and soundness of argument parts are important, were used but not the obnubilation of events by media practitioners that is arrantly prevalent today.

Aside a name, the conscience of an author as well as the Syndicate are put on the line in this deadly discharge of public service. The humongous mountain of sound moral integrity built through laborious toils of many years could altogether be blown away in a trice by a turn of backlashes from criticism, counter expositions and even litigations. The Midas touch of elegant writing, intelligent analysis, insightful details that literally placed readers in scenes, evidences and facts used to drip from proses of renowned journalists the caliber of late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the NewsWatch quartet of  Late Dele Giwa, Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and Yakubu Mohammad, “original” Reuben Abati to mention a few. Except for the latter, decency was a robe that could never be traded for anything; not even a Presidential appointment. If late Dele Giwa had compromised, he would probably had been on the presidential trail of the “Evil Genius” at the time with millions of dollars sitting quietly in his coffers courtesy one of the (arguably) most corrupt dictators Nigeria ever had.

Being an honourable man, Dele chose an honorable path. Neither enticement nor threats deterred him. He rose several heights above the standards set by many recent journalists. He was a man with a heart mix of steel and diamond: he was prepared for the difficult and unpleasant tasks of unveiling the truth through effulgent investigative reporting devoid of lies, blasphemy, vilifications, prevarications, slanders and profanity. He was a man of honour. And as far as Journalism is concerned in Nigeria today, he is an historic milestone. Dele died, yet he lives! The life of a promising young Nigerian was heinously terminated but the virtue of his existence continues to linger in history through the scribbling in our memories by his own blood. He was a man missed when truth had to be told.

The proliferation of the “blogsphere” by shoddy, canny, unrefined, condescending and uncultured self-styled columnists seeking either cheap popularity, money and/or both had also deepened the rot in the profession. Free and cheap online “resources” like the blogspot and wordpress provide easy and informal entrant into “mainstream” journalism. And with the commercialization of page hits, ills likes gossips, slanders, lies and false accusations without proofs or evidences have become the mainstays of online communities as they race to attract followership and advertorials. It is basically about money and this is especially made easy due to the “security by obscurity” of writers’ identities on the internet. Consequently, anyone with any cheap internet access via any device “qualifies” as a columnist either by his/her real names or some special parody accounts. Hence, it has become easier to lash out at people without concrete and verifiable evidences.

Currently, news is agog by a twin online publication of PremiumTimes (PT) and SaharaReporters (SR) about an “alleged” illicit sexual escapade between the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamiso Sanusi (SLS) and a Senior Consultant on the NIRSAL Project in Bank, Dr Maryam Yaro. On Sunday June 2, 2013, public attention was drawn to the unethical activities and misconducts of Sanusi in a publication titled “Sanusi Lamido, his CBN mistress and their sweetheart escapades”. The rhetoric of the poorly researched piece, which at the time of writing this article had attracted 232 comments from the public, depicted that it was intended to ignite public annoyance and incite civil actions against the Governor and his “Mistress” who were grossly indicted.

After reading through the publication many times over, I was stoic and unperturbed due to the incessancy of similar or more heinous crimes perpetrated by people of big social and political statures. I thought a “battle-royale” was in the offing. I was basically waiting for the little spark triggered by PT to degenerate into an inferno in a couple of hours; so big it would burn along and across many social borders: Ethnicity and Religion among others.

While lounging and waiting, came another sensational publication against SLS; this time, on the almighty SR’s website. The headline was a punch below the belt – Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor, Sanusi, Unable To Shake Off Sex Scandal As More Evidence Surface. Prior to reading the post, I had formed sully and profane images and artifacts in my thoughts. “For a heavyweight e-zine like SR to step in, Sanusi is nailed”, I thought.  But this was not to be. SR goofed; just like PT. The narration in the article is yawns apart from the evidences.

Summarily, the twin reports of PT and SR had accused SLS of 2 major offences as follow:

  1. That he, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a public officer paid by the Federal Government on taxpayers’ money, also a married man, is wretchedly involved in an illicit sexual romance, also funded on taxpayers’ money, with another public officer, Dr Mariam Yaro in same institution (the CBN);
  2. That he, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, circumvented and/or suppressed “due process” in the recruitment process that brought Dr. Mariam Yaro into the service of the apex Bank through the NIRSAL Project;

Of these two (2) issues above, the rebuttal submitted by the CBN through its Corporate Communications Director weakly exonerated SLS of the misgiving of the former while it did nothing at all and was utterly silent about the latter. That was not unexpected. The “assertion” by PT expressly quoted contents of the “culprits” communications via SMS. That, seemingly, is very tough to defend. But, on a second thought, unless a blotter obtained from and duly certified by the telecommunication operators is presented, PT accusations could be classified as “blackmails” intended to discredit one of the “best” public officers in recent times.

We know that “when you fight corruption, corruption fights you back vehemently”. So, how are we sure that one or more of the directors or sponsors of the tabloid and/or the news have not been previously and badly hit by “Tsunami Sanusi” that rocked and drowned some “corrupt” banks and their associates? The “Renaissance Group” did many of same in the eye of the storm using the Guardian Newspaper. But while I do not expressly state that this is the case, I do not rule out a possibility. This is just a food for thought and unless undeniable evidences are presented, it remains faux pas!

Of the evidences posted for public opinion by SR, they are the most thwarted exhibits I have read in recent times to nail a public officer. In fact, there are absolutely no links between the evidences provided in the articles and the double allegations of either an illicit sexual relationship between Mr. Sanusi and Mrs Yaro or the circumvention of “due processes” in the recruitment that got Mrs Yaro into NIRSAL/CBN by Mr Sanusi. Without the narrations on the webpages, given those documents alone, how could anyone deduce that the “culprits” are sweethearts? Pretend that you have not read the stories, and then try to concoct “love affair” between any pair amongst all the names you see in the documents. The closest you will probably get is an affectionate relationship between the Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture, Bukar Tijani and Dr Mariam Yaro; because of the way and manner the former wrote highly of the latter. This, except one operates at the same psychiatric frequencies as PT and SR.

Four documents, so far, had been published by SR, outside which I have added no other information. The documents are as follows:

  1. Mrs Yaro’s Resume (with no date on it);
  2. A letter, dated March 12, 2012, from Bukar Tijani to Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, recommending Mrs Yaro for the NIRSAL Project;
  3. An internal memo, dated March 30, 2012, from NIRSAL’s office(CBN) to DG Corporate Services (CBN) praying the Mrs Yaro be hired. This memo, as depicted, got Sanusi’s approval on June 20, 2012; and
  4. Finally, an appointment letter, dated July 12, 2012, to Dr. (Mrs.) Maryam Waisu Yaro, signed by the Director of Human Resources Department, Chizoba V. Mojekwu;

These documents obtained from SR, which also goes under another sensational headline – Documentation on Sanusi/Yaro Sex Scandal,– is absolute prevarication. They do not show at all that there is any scandal. This I have explained earlier.

Coming to the claims by PT and SR that Sanusi circumvented due process in hiring Mrs Yaro, I also figured out that there are a couple of assertions in the narration of both tabloids aimed at misguiding and inciting the public against Sanusi. First, it was stated in both debauching articles that the position to be filled by the “sweetheart mistress” was not advertised. While I cannot categorically refute this claim, it is important to draw the attention of the public to the fact that Mrs Yaro was on “Secondment” from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Central Bank of Nigeria for a period of 12-months during which the CBN, among other things, agreed to funding the cost of the transfer. See the below image:


If the sponsors and the authors of both articles would not be economical with the truth, then I hope I can ask them a question or two. What law, act or policy made it mandatory and compulsory to advertise a “Secondment” position? It is like saying a Professor in UNILAG is going on Sabbatical in UNIBEN and the position to be filled in Uniben has to be compulsorily advertised. What happened to head-hunting? Do Special Advisers’ positions to public officers get advertised? What PT and SR did was to play on the ignorance of the public by not, first, stating that Mrs Yaro was on Secondment to NIRSAL in CBN and, then, not educating the public on Secondment and its guidelines. For an investigative report, this depicts a deliberate attempt by PT, SR and their informants to cheaply discredit a diligent public servant.

Furthermore, I read on SR that “Ms. Yaro’s recruitment process took a matter of weeks, and she received her letter of offer in July 17, 2012…”. This is also a preemptive and presumptuous lie except in a context where a decade can also be expressed in a couple of weeks. From the available documents, right from Bukar Tijani’s recommendation of Mrs Yaro to the issuance of an appointment letter, the recruitment process took 13 weeks (4 months). If the narration in the NIRSAL’s memo to the DG Corporate Services is considered, from December 11, 2012 that a decision was taken, the recruitment process took 7 months (28 weeks). Considering that the recruitment is a “Secondment”, how long would PT and SR think the process should last for? A year or a decade? NIRSAL is not an organization that will chase and hold onto staff forever like most federal organizations. It is a special vehicle that would be decommissioned the moment the business case that set it up ceases to be valid. How long should any recruitment, therefore, take on this vehicle? SR really goofed!

About circumventing a recruitment process, none of these documents show that Mr Sanusi is guilty as alleged. As a matter of fact, the documents showed that he, Sanusi, followed the laid down rules as far as Secondment recruitments are concerned. Apart from the fact that the resume of Mrs Yaro shows that she is qualified for the NIRSAL project, a recommendation from a Minister of State is something most of these “blackmailers” will struggle all their lives to obtain.

Personally, I am of the opinion that both PT and SR, like every professional journalist, have the rights to give the general public a nudge every time a public officer of Sanusi’s caliber errs unethically. In fact, any immoral activity by Sanusi is not a private issue. It is a public issue. Same holds for GEJ and everyone in whose hands our commonwealth has been entrusted. However, it is entirely unacceptable and unprofessional to build up unfounded stories on tangential evidences. In craving for hits, followership and popularity, journalists and their syndicates should realize that it is also unethical to the profession they claim to extol to soil the image of an individual or a group of people without verifiable evidences. The money might be too enticing to reject, but, I guess, a sky-high reputation might be too calamitous to lose as well. Top managements of media outfits, therefore, need to ensure that aggrieved sponsors and frenzy authors do not trade the conscience of their ventures for personal gains.

Of the commoving Sanusi/Yaro piece, while the public still await strong and irrefutable evidences to buttress your (PT and SR) narrations, so far, your evidences are “nitwitted” and therefore, hold no waters. No wonder no civil group has been able to take any steps by them. Mr Akinbajo, acting Managing Editor at PT, might think “his job is done”, but it is important to know that it is almost impossible for Nigerians to demand accountability from Sanusi following a shoddy work such as this. We might be left with no option than to live with the Sanusi/Yaro situation if irrefutable evidences remain at large. At best, we will ignorantly continue to haul insults at innocent people for baseless allegations as you (PT and SR) continue to smile to the banks following our commercialized hits. I suppose, then, it is all about the money. No pride. No shame. No-brainer!

The writer is @aareago on twitter.

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