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Guilty until proven innocent – the case of Patience Jonathan

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THE WILL in an editorial has found Patience Jonathan guilty of money laundering and exhibiting “the culture of impunity and the rapacious attitude…”

A Nigerian website THE WILL with a large following in an editorial has found Mrs. Patience Jonathan guilty of money laundering and exhibiting “the culture of impunity and the rapacious attitude…” 

The Will editorial mocks Mrs. Jonathan’s defenses as “audacious” (showing an impudent lack of respect:) “hollow”, “intriguing”. 

The paper went on to state that Mrs. Jonathan “does not have any verifiable business concern”. 

The scathing editorial questions why she did not state how she earned the money and questions how so much money can be reserved for medical expenses which was apparently in Mrs. Jonathan’s affidavit. 

One needs to read the entire editorial (see the link above) to see and appreciate the hatchet job the editors of The Will are doing.

This editorial brings to mind the incessant assault on Mrs. Buhari and questions on how she could afford the “expensive” shoes, handbags, clothing she has or why her daughter should be attending an “expensive” school in London. 

It is beginning to look as if the wives of presidents have no rights, no abilities beyond their husband’s positions. Nothing!

There are so many things wrong about this editorial beyond its sexism implications. The sexism is that women cannot make money outside their husbands. 

This is not true. When we were in high school many of my classmates were sponsored by their mothers who were petty traders. 

If you go to Onitsha market or any market in Nigeria, you will see women who have huge turnovers from their solo efforts. 

If you go to offices, there are many women who out rank their male colleagues. I have had as many women bosses as I have had male ones. 

It is becoming the norm to see women bread winners in the family as evidenced by the many stay-at-home fathers. 

A woman who caught the eyes of a president is likely to be a “go getter.”

Beyond the sexism exhibited by the editorial is the implication that the editors have been waiting to “catch” Mrs. Jonathan. 

EFCC has merely filed charges and Mrs. Jonathan filed preliminary defenses and papers exchanged. 

Not a word has been exchanged in an open court before a judge, yet the editors of the Will has found Mrs. Jonathan guilty and are questioning her fidelity to the laws of Nigeria. 

EFCC itself has said that its investigations are in their preliminary stages and have been filing and amending already filed charges, but The Will editors are ahead of them. 

They know all journalists, if they are so, have seen the hollowness of Mrs. Jonathan’s defenses.

It is pertinent to note that all through Mrs. Jonathan’s public life she has been found wanting in almost all aspects of living. 

He hair style, her weight, her English, her prayers, her emotions, etc., have been weighed in a balance and found wanting. So in a sense this is nothing new. 

But for this to come from a newspaper published from civilized San Francisco, the malicious hatchet job is disgusting.

I do not know if Mrs. Jonathan stole the money or not. The Will editors do not know either. 

And at this stage nobody but the principals in the case know the truth. 

It is not for nothing that our constitution respects the innocence of the accused until proven guilty. 

It is not for nothing that the accused is allowed to face off with their accusers in public and through cross examinations the truth could emerge.

The Will editors have no respect for these provisions of the Nigerian constitution.

Why does the Editorial matter?

The Editorial matters because it prejudices the mind of its readers and sets up a situation where if Mrs. Jonathan is acquitted, it could be said that the system is rigged. 

Perception is reality to the perceivers. It matters because it takes sides in a dispute when the sacred and solemn duty of the press is to report the facts, and nothing but the facts. 

When reporters hold a certain perspective on a matter they begin to see events from these clouded lenses. 

On this topic from now on I would have to wonder if the report by The Will is an effort to substantiate its editorial viewpoint (I told you so position) or the truth. 

It will be difficult to tell now.

Why does the Editorial matter?

The media is considered the 4th estate of the Realm and as such, a part of the management of the polity. 

Although not elected by anybody, being the eyes and ears of the public, it is incumbent on the media to tell the bodies the truth about what it sees. 

And what it hears. It is terrible when the eyes see an innocent lamb and tells the body it has seen a venomous snake. 

It is wrong when the ears hear the cry of a sheep and reports to the body it has heard the roar of a lion. This what The Will’s editorial has accomplished.

It lied to Nigeria

It is a disservice to Nigeria.

Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston, Massachusetts

 

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