A former Minister of Education and co-convener of the BringBackOurGirls movement, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, has slammed a social media contractor, Japheth Omojuwa, saying she was never a director of his company, Alpha Reach, as claimed.
Ezekwesili said on Friday that Omojuwa must produce a public apology as well as send to her the financial correspondence of the company to be sure that her name was not forged further in any of the dealings.
The former minister, speaking through her counsel, Falana and Falana’s Chambers, stated this in a letter, titled, “Complaint over Fraudulent Use of the name of Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili as a director of the Alpha Reach Limited; Demand for full disclosure and public apology.”
Omojuwa, founder and Chief Strategist, Alpha Reach, Abuja, Nigeria, has been heavily criticised by the public since Thursday over a media campaign seeking the release of a Colombian citizen, Alex Saab, charged with money laundering.
Alpha Reach and Omojuwa allegedly paid other Nigerian influencers and mercantile journalists to drive the campaign for public sympathy for Alex Saab, who is under house arrest in Cape Verde and could be extradited to the US.
Mr Saab was arrested and detained for alleged corruption by Interpol and security operatives on a US arrest warrant in Cape Verde during a stopover to refuel while travelling from Venezuela to Iran in June 2020.
After the explosive news, Nigerians on Twitter began to question those who were behind the Alpha Reach company in which Mr. Omojuwa is the chief strategist.
This was at the point the names of notable Nigerians which include; Governor El-rufai Nasir, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Damilola Ogunleye, and Japhet Omojuwa popped up as the directors of the company.
Ezekwesili, reacting through her lawyer, Marshal Abubakar, distanced herself from the company and demanded a public apology.
She said, “Sometime in 2012, a company called Alpha Reach Limited was incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission, Abuja. The company has as its object general construction (Building and civil engineering) and listed as its Directors; Japheth Omojuwa, Damilola Ogunleye, El-Rufai Nasir and Ezekwesili Obiageli.
“In 2017, a notice of Change of Directors was filed through which the list of directors was altered and the name of our clients Mrs Ezekwesili Obiageli was removed as a director and replaced with Mallam Indimi Ahmed Mohammed.
“On March 30, 2021, someone from Buzzfeed reached out to our client, informing her that she was listed as one of the directors of Alpha Reach Limited, alongside Nasir El-Rufai and Japhet Omojuwa, our client, who was certain that she has never been involved in incorporating any company with you and/or Mallam Nasir El-Rufai promptly informed the Buzzfeed official so.
"It is our brief that our client promptly contacted you but you informed her that the Alpha Reach Company Limited is your company and that she is not involved in it at all.
“Our client also requested for the incorporation documents from you and you promised to make same available to her within a week but you never did. Due diligence search and investigations conducted revealed the following;
“One, that you never sought her consent and/or participation in incorporating any company whatsoever and for any purpose whatsoever. On account of the foregoing, we have the firm mandate and instruction of our client to demand the following: one, that you upon receipt of this correspondence cause to be issued a public statement and apology exonerating our client from the incorporation process and activities of Alpha Reach Limited.
“That you give a detailed account to our client via correspondence the circumstances leading to the incorporation and the correspondence must include the details of all financial dealings of the company from 2012 to 2017.”
Earlier this week, Twitter suspended over 1,500 accounts linked to the campaign to save Saab, including those of popular influencers like Pamilerin Adegoke, for receiving payments to tweet about the Colombian citizen who is currently under house arrest in Cape Verde.
Restrictions on many of those accounts have now been lifted, and Mr Omojuwa did not appear to have been suspended at all.
Meanwhile, Omojuwa, the founder and chief strategist of Alpha Reach has stated that Dr. Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili was not on the board and never a co-owner of the company.
This was contained in a clarification document issued by the company and signed by Omojuwa published on its Twitter handle @alphareach.
The company said it became necessary to clear its name and its officers from the media campaign seeking the release of a Colombian citizen charged with money laundering.
After the explosive news, Nigerians on Twitter began to question those who were behind the Alpha Reach company in which Mr. Omojuwa is the chief strategist. This was at the point the names of notable Nigerians which include; Governor El-rufai Nasir, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Damilola Ogunleye, and Japhet Omojuwa popped up as the directors of the company.
“Engaging in platform manipulation — regardless of the intent — is a violation of the Twitter Rules. This includes gaming hashtags, artificially boosting content, or paying for fake engagement,” Twitter said in a message to Peoples Gazette. “As a result of these behaviours, we’ve suspended more than 1,500 accounts associated with these hashtags and our investigations continue,” the company said.
The Gazette had previously reported that some Nigerian media outlets were paid as part of the image laundering arrangement and some of them had started taking down the links after Twitter’s measures became public.
Some of the influencers were said to have received Saab campaign briefings in January, according to a document produced on the letterhead of Digital Good Governance for Africa (DIGA), a UK-based nonprofit led by Nigerian Naji Makarem.
The document was said to have outlined a social media push that would recruit influencers in Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal to tweet in support of the kingpin, twice a week as the campaign was expected to run from January 18 to February 18.
“The influencer is expected to use the hashtags #FreeAlexSaab and tag prominent Nigerians, Ghanaians and Sengalese handles from government, business, celebrities, activists, etc. which will be provided to the influencer,” the five-page document read in part.
It instructed influencers to engage with replies to their posts about Saab and to tag the @wakandanomics Twitter account if they needed additional information.
The tweets gained traction in March as the ECOWAS Court ruled that Mr Saab should not be extradited to the U.S. The case continues in Cape Verde, however, and the country’s highest court ruled for the extradition process to continue.
The report said 40 Nigerian influencers were recruited to participate by Mr Omojuwa’s Alpha Reach.