HomeNewsCriminal Defamation Is a Serious Offence, Idinye Warns Soyombo Over Accusing Customs...

Criminal Defamation Is a Serious Offence, Idinye Warns Soyombo Over Accusing Customs Officers

Two time governorship aspirant in Edo State and public affairs analyst, High Chief Jacob Egietseme Idinye, has taken a swipe at a journalist, Fisayo Soyombo, who had alleged that items seized by men of the Nigerian Customs Service, which are often paraded on air, are later returned back to the owners after “money must have exchanged hands.”

Idinye, who also berated Soyombo for discrediting journalists who covered the Maritime sector, called on the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to invite Soyombo to substantiate his claims with proof and caution him against making further misleading comments.

He said the writer should stop fabricating stories against Customs officers who had surpassed their targets in the discharge of their statutory duties.

During a Press Conference he addressed Saturday morning (April 6, 2024) at a popular hotel in Lagos, Idinye condemned the activities of people who are paid to do hatchet jobs with the intent to overheat the polity.

Idinye described criminal defamation as a serious offence and that no one should be allowed to infringe on other people’s rights under the cover of “investigative journalism,” which is at variance with the known professional ethical standards.

The Edo-born politician, a winner of over 32 different professional awards in maritime reporting and Customs activities, maintained that the Nigerian Customs Service under the leadership of Mr. Wale Adeniyi (MFR), a thoroughbred public servant, had raised the bar of efficiency in public service.

He said it had turned around the fortunes of the service in terms of revenue generation, land border security as well as instilling discipline, patriotism and professional competence in the personnel in the overall interest of the nation.

Idinye stated: “The Nigerian extant rules are very clear on a matter like this, especially the provisions of Section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, any person who publishes any defamatory matter is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one year; and any person who publishes any defamatory matter knowing it to be false, is liable to imprisonment for two years. This remains sacrosanct. Nobody can hide behind his or her laptop to spread falsehoods and go about tarnishing the image of those who doing their best to protect our borders and wage war against economic saboteurs who don’t wish our nation well.

“No Customs officer will go that low by returning seized contraband goods back to the owners. This is totally far from truth. Soyombo should be properly guided, and his sponsors, too, must be ready to face the full weight of the law. We can all recall that many of these seized items for example cars, are auctioned out in a most transparent manner and the revenue generated are remitted to the Federal Government bank accounts through the Federal Ministry of Finance in a most transparent manner. Most recently, some seized rice were sold out to the members of the public at a subsidized rate, but nothing was hidden. That is the way the service has been operating, and that excellent culture of openness, transparency, and accountability has never changed. So, the self-acclaimed investigative journalist, Fisayo Soyombo, should tell the world where he is fabricating his own type of story, which is primarily based on falsehoods, insincerity and deception.

“This is one attack too many on his part. Discrediting journalists who cover the Maritime sector and Customs activities is totally unacceptable and should be sanctioned. This is also a wake up call to the highly revered leaders of the Nigeria Union of Journalists to look into this matter by inviting Soyombo to substantiate all his claims with prove and caution him for making further misleading comment and equally stop him for cooking up stories against customs personnel who have overtime surpassed their targets in the discharge of their statutory duties.

“So all those seizures evidently displayed on TV stations and newspapers across the country are fake? Later, the seized items would now be sold back to the alleged smugglers, according to Soyombo’s jaundiced estimation? This is so ridiculous and most unfortunate; social media is filled with all sorts of madness, and I think it should be regulated to an extent. We are not in a Banana Republic, Nigeria is a country governed by law, the so-called investigative journalist must be seen to be disciplined, decent, professional and socially responsible in his conduct in line with the professional ethical standards.”


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