Lagos Speaker, Obasa, Gives Thugs N50m To Burn Down SaharaReporters' Civic Media Lab, Targets TVC Journalist, HEDA For Criticizing Him

peaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, has sponsored some thugs to embark on a protest against SaharaReporters in front of the Civic Media Lab in the GRA area of Ikeja, Lagos.

The paid miscreants, most of whom are members of the notorious Awawa Boys – a group known to terrorize residents of Agege and other neighbouring suburbs in the city – are expected to be carrying out such hatchet jobs for corrupt politicians.

It won’t be the first time Lagos politicians and the Nigerian government would sponsor fake protests against SaharaReporters – on June 16, 2017, Lekan Fatodu, a self-acclaimed journalist, led some miscreants including commercial motorcycle riders known as ‘Okada riders’ to protest in front of Civic Media Lab, preventing users and employees from going in or out for several hours.

Buoyed by then Lagos Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, Fatodu also came along with a few reporters and bloggers, who later syndicated reports of his fake “protest”. It turned out that the police granted him a protest permit to enable him to carry out the dastardly act.

This was after he had led some thugs to assault publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, in January 2017 following claims that the online news publication defamed him when it linked him to illicit financial deals by Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation in Nigeria.

Fatodu later pursued a libel lawsuit at a Lagos high court against SaharaReporters and its publisher, but a judge asked him to pay N100,000 to the Civic Media Lab for wrongfully joining the lab in his misguided lawsuit but he has refused to pay the fees till date.

SaharaReporters gathered that Obasa has mobilized the thugs with N50m so as to invade the Civic Media Lab office and burn down the place with anybody found there as a way of getting back at the online news publication for exposing his fraudulent activities in the Lagos parliament where he had been feeding fat on public funds.

In a series of reports in recent weeks, SaharaReporters had exposed how Obasa used a number of companies registered under different names to execute contracts and siphon public funds.

One of the reports said to have greatly embarrassed the Speaker, exposed how he spent N17m monthly to maintain his personal residence and guest house.

Obasa, through a proxy company, made the state Assembly approve that amount for the maintenance of both property on monthly basis.

SaharaReporters had also previously reported how the Speaker, who has been head of the Assembly since 2015, used his office to approve the sum of N47.5m per quarter from the state treasury for social media influencers.

Angered by the development and especially after failing to get SaharaReporters to soft-pedal on its focus on his corrupt activities, Obasa and his supporters capitalised on a recent error in a story published by the online news medium to claim that all stories published about him were false.

On Friday, SaharaReporters erroneously reported that a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’aba, had died.

But after findings, it was revealed that Na’aba was alive and in London.

SaharaReporters, like any other responsible media establishment, immediately retracted that piece of information and tendered an unreserved apology to the ex-House of Reps Speaker and all persons, who may have seen the story earlier.

Rather than commend the online news publication for such bold and professional move, Obasa and his followers saw it as an opportunity to rubbish all the reports on his corrupt activities as exposed by SaharaReporters.

According to sources close to the seat of power in Lagos, invading and burning down the Civic Media Lab was one of the best ways Obasa believes he can get back at SaharaReporters for all the ‘damage’ done to his ‘brand’.

It was also gathered that the Lagos Assembly Speaker was targeting a journalist with Television Continental, Babajide Kolade-Otitoju, for criticizing him on Journalists Hangout, a popular program on the station where media practitioners share their views on topical issues.

Also, Obasa and his group are targeting the leadership of Human and Environmental Development Agenda, a civil rights organization promoting transparency and justice.

HEDA had been a thorn in the flesh of corrupt public office holders in Nigeria, exposing and dragging them in the open for their atrocious acts.