With rising cases of targeted blackmail and character assassination of public officials and government appointees in Nigeria, Freelance Journalist Federation (FJF), a coalition of over 100 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has urged security agencies to beam their searchlight on organised syndicates and cabal masquerading as CSOs
FJF particularly called out Prof. Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr., the purported Convener of Country First Movement as the ring leader of the blackmailing syndicates complicated in the mudslinging attack against the Chief of Staff to President and the Minister of Interior.
In a petition to the Director General (DG) Department of State Security Service (DSS) dated 9th February 2024 and signed by its Executive Director, Comrade Peter Adi Ibrahim, a copy of which was sited our reporter, the group described the activities of Prof. Chris Mustapha and his gang as an abuse of democratic privileges and an intentional plan to undermine the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr. President for self enrichment.
According to the petition, “democracy offers freedom of expression but there has to be decorum to ensure that the expression of one’s rights does not infringe on the fundamental rights of others. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been magnanimous enough to give free vent to all opinions and even dissenting voices. Most importantly, he has also shown an unprecedented political will and courage to fight corruption. While we find this very healthy for our democracy, it appears some persons have mischievously decided to exploit Mr. President’s staunch anti-corruption stance as a tool for witch-hunt and blackmail.
“In fact, there has been in recent times, an upsurge in the number of fake and unregistered CSOs (including Prof. Chris Mustapha’s Country First Movement), who have formed themselves into a syndicate whose speciality is to blackmail and tarnish the images of Heads of Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) with the aim of extorting money from them with unfounded, unverified as well as unsubstantiated allegations and complaints.
With a determination to refute falsehood and misinformation with facts, FJF in their petition gave a detailed modis operandi of Country First Movement which is a cover for syndicated cabals and their highly malicious and criminal activities under the coordination of Prof. Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr.
Excerpts, “working under different pseudonyms such as CSOs Budget Implementation, Evaluation and Monitoring Committee, Prof. Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr has built a formidable underground network of professional blackmailers who will stop at nothing until their victims are made to part with huge sums of money in settlement. The game-plan is always to spin up unprintable allegations and then go to the media and spread them like wildfire, eliciting fear in their chosen targets and victims. The wannabe Professor is now called in as a mediator of a crisis situation he actually started.
“Of recent, Prof. Chris Mustapha and his gang had descended heavily on the venerable Chief of Staff to the President RT. Hon. Femi Gbajamiabila without any provocation. The entire country was shocked and if not for our careful investigation, even security agencies are yet to identify the source and direction of the salvo that was hauled at the Chief of Staff. The outcry from the public on the need to checkmate these charlatans especially that of CSOs like Save Nigeria Movement, the Chief of Staff and the Speaker of the House of Representatives deserves an urgent to end this smear campaign and extortion”.
The CSO also revealed that, aside his penchant for consistently blackmailing the Chief of Staff and other highly placed Nigerians because of his media visibility and reputation in the academia, Prof. Chris Mustapha has set up fictitious, unregistered kangaroo organisations and identities, made up of rogues in the name of CSOs to extort bribe money from Chief Executive Officers of MDAs through various blackmailing schemes, with more than 33 MDAs penciled down for his vicious attacks.
“Intelligence report available to us has shown that apart from the hide and seek games, Prof. Chris Mustapha has personally reached out to several Heads of government agencies with a view to convincing them to part with huge sums of taxpayers money as a cover up for crimes not committed with a promise to silence the media mob. The money thus far collected is nothing but bribe money.
“So far, over 33 MDAS and their Chief Executives have been targeted in the coordinated attack which has started with the Chief of staff to the president and the Minister of Interior. In the coming days, the syndicate intends to spread their tentacles to other agencies and the security agencies must act swiftly to save the country such distraction.
“We, therefore, call for his arrest in relation to the bribes has been collecting from MDAs under the pretext of mediation as well as his role in the planned plot to blackmail and malign a number of MDAs and public officials which he has already started with Chief of Staff to the President. Relevant security agencies must investigate and prosecute him accordingly otherwise the syndicate is going to distract Mr. President administration. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission must act with alacrity to prevent rogues from continuously extorting innocent Nigerians and distracting Mr. President’s administration in the name of anti-corruption watchdogs”, the statement added.
The Freelance Journalist Federation similarly called on security agencies especially the DSS to profile all CSOs in the country to know their leadership, mandates and objectives so as to minimize incidents of multiple blackmail and extortion, adding that, must of them work with quack journalists to spread their bile.
“It is sad to note that some faceless groups have been working with unprofessional journalists to fast track their extortionist schemes with the aim of bringing the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to disrepute. We therefore urge security agencies to profile all civil society organisations in the country and issue security clearance to ensure strict compliance to laid down ethos.
“As a group, we remain unfazed by the antics of charlatans who are bent on dustabilising our nation. We commend the efforts of our security agencies as they have done so much already in bringing an end to the numerous threats facing us as nation. It is our believe that they will immediately swing into action and fish out Prof. Chris Mustapha and his cohorts in no distant time”, the statement concluded.