Between Linda Ikeji and the 1st Amendment

Yesterday on twitter, I got involved in a long running debate about a post that appeared on Miss Linda Ikeji’s blog relating to the one time actor and now Delta State Commissioner for Arts and Culture, Richard Mofe-Damijo.

The post itself was all of 3 lines which began by wishing him a happy 51st birthday and ended by informing her readers, rightly or wrongly, that he had moved into a new mansion which ‘is said to have cost’ N250m.

It turns out that, beneath the cool exterior of Mr Mofe-Damijo lies a prima donna as he then took to twitter and in a series of tweets, began by ‘warning’ Ms Ikeji to stop spreading lies about him and then for good measure, he left us in no doubt as to what he thought was a ‘dignified career path’ and what wasnt. He was also sure to let us know that he would ordinarily not ‘dignify her type’ with a response but was only doing so because he had been inundated with phone calls from his friends asking what was going on.

From his tweets, it was clear his beef was with the value Ms Ikeji had placed on his home although he didnt quite tell us what the supposed real value is (probably recognising that that would be a lose lose battle for him). It is my personal opinion that the Commissioner is rather silly and takes himself too seriously. 10 years ago, acting in Nigeria was looked down upon and actors were very easily referred to as ‘their type’. I am unclear as to what Mr Mofe-Damijo is benchmarking as a ‘dignified career path’ compared to Ms Ikeji’s gossip blogging – his acting which brought him fame and fortune or his current government job?

But let’s leave that and move on to something more important.

In the course of the debates, I was sure to defend Ms Ikeji, not because I have ever met her or even read her blog (I dont), but because I think there is a more important principle at stake.

It is also my personal opinion that the greatest words ever put down on paper by a politician in any country is the American Bill of Rights, specifically the 1st Amendment. They are generally attributed to James Madison who had been mentored by the incomparable visionary, Thomas Jefferson, a man light years ahead of his time. Madison himself went on to become President and would govern by the rights he had authored and learn to live within its constraints.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The emphasis is mine. Pause and think about the above statement for a minute. Madison wrote those words in 1789 or thereabouts. He went on to become President 20 years later from 1809 to 1817. The man was clearly thinking less about himself and more about the country because enshrining such rights into the constitution is bound to be at best a nuisance for any leader.

Not only was Madison granting the press freedom, by enshrining it in the constitution, he was making it impossible for the government to take that right away as that could only be done by the Supreme Court.

Mr Madison, who was part of the establishment along with his mentor Mr Jefferson, were essentially protecting Americans from the government they were part of. This is a hard concept to grasp. The government was effectively saying ‘look, we dont trust ourselves with power. Our tendency is to always trample over individual liberties especially as we have the guns and money so we want you to be able to at least restrain us. And one of the ways you can do this is by being able to say whatever you want about us without us punishing you for it. You can also have a free press that can investigate us and write whatever they like about us and we wont be able to retaliate against them’.

Like I said, these are hard concepts. As an example, in Nigeria, those who wrote the constitution granted political office holders (themselves) immunity from prosecution and we cannot get them to take it away even after 13 years of democracy. It is not enough that they have the guns and money, they also want to be able to rob us blind and for us not to be able to do anything about it.

When Americans hold their founding fathers in deep awe, it is because of things like these. When those men had a choice between self aggrandizement and selflessness, they went for selflessness 100%.

To the 2nd point – why freedom of speech? Why not freedom to yawn in public? Why did the American founding fathers consider this right so important that they felt the need to enshrine it in the constitution?

The simple answer is that yawning is unlikely to offend anyone and even if it does offend, it is not a right that can be taken away. That is to say, even if you were to yawn in front of a government official who had access to soldiers and money, he cannot take that right away from you if your yawning were to somehow offend him.

But freedom of speech is serious business. Madison and friends knew that the whole point of freedom of speech is that is bound to offend someone from time to time. Without this ability to offend, freedom of speech is infact useless and there would be no point to it. It is fine if I was to say something that offended say a colleague at work. I could easily apologize and we would end it there. Essentially we are equals and we would deal with it as equals. 

However it is a completely different ball game when someone in government is offended by something you say. If a fight were to ensue as a result, it could never possibly be a fair one. Government, like I said earlier, is leviathan by virtue of their access to guns and money. And most importantly, the right to free speech can be taken away by imprisonment or generally harm being done to you.

So we come to decision time – given that we know that the freedom of speech is bound to offend someone, especially people in govt, and we also know that if an ordinary citizen were to get into a quarrel with the govt, it cant ever be an equal fight – is this right to free speech as well as a free press worth defending inspite of its potential to cause offence? Mr Madison thought it abslutely was.

Several years later, Mr Madison’s judgement was proved correct when two journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, took advantage of the press freedom rights to essentially bring down Richard Nixon with the Watergate scandal. Is it possible that Nixon could have been innocent of the allegations against him and those two journalists ended up tainting his name forever? The answer is it doesnt matter. What was more important was their right to investigate him and then write whatever allegations they had against him.

Now, I am not getting carried away here – Ms Ikeji is no journalist. She sells gossip on her blog for which there is apparently a huge market in Nigeria. She did not create this market, she merely, like any smart entrepreneur, saw the current when it served and took it before losing her ventures….to paraphrase the Bard.

Is Mr Mofe-Damijo’s house really worth N250m as she suggested on her blog? The answer, again, is that it doesnt matter. What is more important is that she has a right to publish it. Mr Mofe-Damijo is a government official and Ms Ikeji is a private citizen. She, like any other Nigerian, has a right to say what she hears or sees without fear of offending his feelings. Her right to say it, is far more important than the possibility that Mr Mofe-Damijo might get offended by it.

Nigeria is a country where 70% of all money in circulation is government related. A local government Chairman is capable of taking away a citizen’s rights not to talk of higher up the political chain like governors and senators. Every day government tramples on the rights of ordinary citizens not just by arrest or physical harm but by sheer evil policies that are designed to serve their own interests above those of everybody else. And come election time, they do all they can to take away the last right we have – the right to kick them out of office if we are unhappy with them – by rigging elections and manipulating our votes with the sheer array of powers they have at their disposal.

In this fight between we the citizens as David and the government as Goliath, the right to be able to say what we want about them is the one stone we have in our sling. The Nigerian government would never have invented blogging, twitter, facebook or the internet if it was down to them. You only need to look at the tight grip they maintain on NTA to understand how much this freedom of speech is able to offend those in power and how far they will go to curtail it. 

I dont know Ms Ikeji and I dont care for her blog. Not because I dont like gossip, I actually do, but I prefer political gossip as opposed to the ‘celebrity’ variety she peddles. This is a matter of personal taste. I read Guido Fawkes blog here in the UK to get gossip on what’s going on in the corridors of power in Westminster i.e. what you wont read in The Guardian or Daily Telegraph. The entire point of that blog is to offend politicians specifically Labour politicians as Guido is of course Tory leaning. There are equivalent blogs on the left attacking politicians on the right.

But if she somehow offends a government official, then I know where my loyalties lie, absolutely no questions. Because it isnt really about Ms Ikeji – there is no way you can make a law to stop a blogger from speaking freely that it wont be used for something else, this is the nature of government and what Mr Madison tried to guard against. Using a random example, when the UK government wanted to seize assets belonging to Iceland after that country’s banks collapsed in 2008, they used anti-terror laws to do it! Laws that were designed to protect citizens from terror attacks were somehow used to seize another country’s assets. Even though they were justified in seizing the assets, it goes to show what a government can do when it is determined to do it.

I hear Mr Mofe-Damijo is exploring ‘legal options’ against Ms Ikeji. I am desperately praying he does this. For one, it will help us know what is inside Nigeria’s libel laws which were no doubt written before the internet was invented. It is also a battle he cannot win. If he takes offence at his house being valued at N250m, not only will he need to prove that Ms Ikeji knowingly and deliberately overstated the value of his home, he will also need to tell us the real value. At that point it will then become a matter for the public to decide exactly how much is too much or too little for a Commissioner of his stature. In a land where 70% of the people are poor, your guess is as good as mine as to what will be an acceptable value for his house.

I think Mr Mofe-Damijo, as is typical with government officials in Nigeria, was being a bully. I also find it hard to believe that Mrs Ikeji deliberately overstated the value of his home to get page views. At the very worst, she’s guilty of not double checking her facts before publishing, a crime of which she is merely 1 in 1,000,000 guilty persons in Nigeria. But there’s nothing to say she wont learn or get better in future. I dont even blog regularly but over the years as I have gotten more people reading my posts, I have learnt to be a bit more accurate with my facts before publishing anything. It is what any normal person would do – the more readers you get, the more you are forced to be more responsible – and there is no evidence that Ms Ikeji is an abnormal person.

 

The road is long for Nigeria and we will only get there by winning small battles that broaden the power base in the country and create a system where we at least have a voice that government is forced to listen to. Anything else is a recipe for Why Nations Fail.

FF

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56 thoughts on “Between Linda Ikeji and the 1st Amendment

  1. Hi Feyi,

    I’m looking at this issue from another angle. I beg to disagree with you to an extent without necessarily joining issues with you on them.

    We aren’t in America. We don’t have a 1st Amendment strictu sensu. Whilst admitting to Linda’s right to free dissemination of speech (albeit her right to publish), that right isn’t absolute. It must be exercised with regards to RMD’s rights as a citizen of this country. Linda Ikeji’s online publishing of gossip news makes her a journalist and thus subjects her to the ethics governing that field. If she published a falsehood (gossip) then by Jove, the offended party has a right to be angry and seek legal redress. Whether he’s got a 250m house is immateria.. that’s for an arbiter to decide. I don’t think he shldve insulted her(I didn’t really dwell on his reply) just as I think calling him a “fool” was also harsh. We should separate objective reasoning from passionate discuss.

    Just as GEJ has the right to refuse to publicly declare his assets, RMD also has that right too. The onus is on the person asserting corrupt enrichment to go and find out if RMD filed his assets as required by law at the CCB. That is sufficient enough.

    I don’t read Ikeji’s blog just as I don’t read ovation or watch the Bisi Olatilo show. The right to post material which could be harmful or injurious to another is not the purpose of the Nigerian Constitution.

    Cheers.

  2. Well said Eze. If she accused him of rape, he shouldn’t respond because of freedom of speech? By all means express yourself and entertain your customers, but the targets have a right to respond to factual inaccuracies. Simple.

    By the way, calling him a fool was flat out unnecessary and perhaps reduced the strength of your argument significantly….

  3. Hi Feyi nice angle and unlike eze I TOTALLY agree with the points you raised.I unlike you though visit Miss Linda Ikeji’s blog at lunch time everyday to catch up on my Nigerian dose of gossip after I surf through daily mail and yahoo.RMD is fond of taking to social media to express his grouse early this year I remember reading him groan about something very unnecessary.I really had respect for RMD and truly saw him as a role model.”Their type” as my people would say a pig taken and washed is still a pig and would one day find its way back to the dung hill RMD has quickly forgotten where he is coming from!Do you blame him he has aligned himself quickly to yet “another type” and this time a WORST type.If his hands are clean let him correct the figure and if his grouse is that she mentioned the property THEN pray mr RMD tell us how an actor who doesn’t earn as much as hollywood actors AND is a public servant afford a house of that amount.Bullying Ms.Linda would do him no good he should quit being an agbaya and go do some real work you know the type you know OUR type engage in

  4. Firstly, while I want to commend you for a brilliant write-up I would also like to state sm few facts which are;
    1) Rmd could have easily addressed the matter in d most responsible way by asking for a retraction& apology and dis matter would just have been resolved but no he chose the oda way round nw dat he is a politician and can get away with it.
    2)Linda can be way offline like you said but the thing pple can do is to ignore& not come to her blog instead of calling for her head.but the funniest thing is dat most of her controversial blogposts are due to misunderstanding & high handedness of celebs who think they can say anything and get away with it.
    3) Lastly “linda” is just a victim of smone who has gotten to the peak of her “chosen career” dignified or not and would always be a subject to hate cos I know dis feeling myself.*whew* tks for having me here

  5. Did someone comment that GEJ has the right to refuse to declare his assets ‘publicly’? Oh well, you have just exercised your right to free speech there even though it was dejecting to read especially when one puts Nigeria’s future in perspective.
    And there goes the argument.

    PS: If the blogger’s high level analysis of the situation between a politician an an Internet tabloid to draw parallels with the deplorable state of the Nigerian situation is difficult to accept then there might be something fundamentally wrong (or right, depends where you’re coming from).
    But to insist the onus is on the accuser to verify is asking rather too much. The ‘politician’ may wish to, say, make a public statement to deny the allegations, and as the respectable Nigerian politician that he purports to be, declare his assets as required by the constitution or at least, based on the allegation, verify the cost of the worth of the house to the public whom he is supposed to serve, and not appear to be threatening her on Twitter.
    Oh man..what does the future hold for Nigeria, or is there something in the water?

  6. Two words – Slander & Reputational risk (okay, maybe three).

    We all have backsides but we do not necessarily show them off in public; and by virtue of the same token – first amendment should not be carte blanche to run your mouth without thought to consequences (especially in Nigeria).

    My simple take – if she has the theoretic right to say/ post whatever; so does he.

    Only substance I see here is the question re compulsory asset declaration per CCB. How come I have never heard of that – what body is the CCB? And how “compulsory/ mandatory” is it if one can choose to disregard the law?!

  7. If You Post a Fabricated Story Capable Of Tainting A Mans Image i Think You Owe Him An Apology..Ignorantly or Arrogantly Hiding Behind The Mirage Of An Unjust “Freedom Of Speech” just Shows outright unprofessionalism and Conscious Deceit..To Linda Ikeji And Every Other Blogger Out There,We Expect More..Be Thorough,Be Informative,Be Great !!!

  8. @ aKin and Theresa

    Well, its very simple. Many Nigerians got caught up in the use of the word “declare”. In Paragraph 11, Under Schedule 5 (A) of the Constitution, a public officer is mandated to declare his assets by filling and filing the necessary forms at the CODE OF CONDUCT BUREAU. No one has said that GEJ (or in this case, RMD)failed to do so. Instead, many fell into the mudslinging trap and were screaming “declare ur assets”. That Yaradua felt compelled to count how many houses he had and how much he had in his account on national TV was a measure of personal choice. I still insist that we be objective and not passionate.

    Until someone exercises his rights under the FOI Act to open RMD’s assets files (or GEJ’s) and show that he has a house of 250m which he under appraised or didn’t declare, (or in the case of GEJ, show that he didn’t file the asset declaration form), then the basic defence of “justification” would not come up.

    You don’t just come up and say things about people that could tarnish their image and hide under a freedom of speech umbrella. Its dangerous.

    Our laws are there to guide us. If you express a fact, its within the realistic realm of common sense for you to defend υя assertion. Its the common and general pillar or our evidencial law, he who asserts, must prove. The most honorable thing to do here is either prove that fact, or recant the publication and offer and apology. that’s what civilised people do.it dosent take anything away from wwwlindaikejisblog.com.

    Cheers.

  9. @ Theresa

    Let me chip something else.

    When we speak of injurious words,they could be either Libel (published words) or Slander (spoken words).

    I think since the words spoken of here are published in an online journal, it would be libel.also, the CCB is the Code Of Conduct Bureau.

    Its a government parastatal tasked with enforcing professional ethics and the various codes of conduct regulating public office.

  10. The problem with Nigerians is that we are never objective! Have you heard of brand loyalty? That is what happens when you talk about anyone who comes from their tribe or is of the same religion, he / she can do no wrong! Why do some of those who commented on this post saying the Freedom of speech does not count in Nigeria? Why is Nigeria different than countries where it counts? Why also should a whole president of a country who has sworn to fight corruption refuse to declare his assets and we say he has the right to? What is he hiding? Why is RMD bitter about the value of the house if it costs less? If he is really as ‘Honest’ as he and his defenders claim, then he should allow the facts τ̲̅ȍ speak for him instead of spewing fires and brimstone on Twitter. His condescending to respond means he has something to hide! Also miss Linda’s freedom of speech supercedes RMD’s since that is the only power she has. And for God’s sake, her blog is just gossip! Which is usually truth exaggerated!

  11. After reading this uselss article from this writter/blogger,i became very angry. Please do not compare the highly revered consititution of the United States with this careles incident occasioned by Ikeji. I particularly hold that document to be too sacrosanct for your misplaced comparison.
    Mr Writer,how about ♍ε̲̣̣̣̥ calling you a dangerous bandit,pornstar and convicted fraudster and publishing it to the world? Freedom of speech ain’t it? As a financial analyst by profession, we are mandated to put a disclaimer on products that may present conflicts or interest which means may be potentially harmful to the client before transacting. Linda should have done same on that post (e.g unconfirmed reports) except she had facts. That makes us leave in a decent society which you tried hard in your article to suggest.

  12. Ksmith: If I mistakenly collected your wife, I apologise. But please drink some ice water and try to read and understand before commenting…I know leaving comments on the internet is free but still.

    Like I mentioned in the post, Linda did say ‘is said to be worth N250m’. Simple understanding of English means at the very least you can contact her to ask for more information if you want it…she is not claiming to have valued the house herself.

    As to your point about America, no one is saying Nigeria is like America, again drink ice water. But the Bill of Rights was written by men who understood the time in 1789. This is 2012, so I am asking you, when will Nigeria get to the level of America in 1789?

    Dont rush to reply, again think about your answer and drink ice water before responding.

  13. Ksmith: By the way you can call me whatever you like. But you will first need to get a LOT of people to read it before it becomes a problem for me and I notice you.

    That’s how it works…if that is what you want to use your freedom of speech for, there really is nothing I can do about it

  14. Errors in last post. “Leave” should read “live”. “Conflicts or interest” should read “Conflicts of interest”. Thanks.

  15. Mr Feyi,
    I do not intend to take a second wife in this lifetime. Just so you know,if i had a chance to for free,i will not do the nuptial thing with a model or in this case an ex-model for personal reasons.
    Contrary to your opinion, commenting on the internet is not free at least for ♍ε̲̣̣̣̥ (considering the time i would have spent in being more productive). Take for instance my trying to put this issue straight with you.
    How in the world is “is said to be worth N250m” an unambiguous disclaimer? Maybe you and Linda know something i don’t about this given my little “simple understanding of English”. Mr Man it does not take 223 years for Nigeria to be where America is now. You may wish to take a cue from Singapore.
    In your 2nd comment,you yet again emphasize my point. You may need that ice water more than myself. Once a post is published,it automatically becomes public whether one person or one million people read it. In fact,even if nobody reads it at all. You should know better.

  16. Ksmith: You are struggling with English. Let’s not waste each other’s time. I thought what I wrote about Nigeria and America was simple and clear enough but you have managed to misunderstand it.

    Seriously go and do something more productive like you said and dont waste your internet commenting on my useless blog.

  17. FF, I did us a great service by taking time to address this issue of goverment officials bullying their way through everything and as in every arguement, you are either ‘for’ or ‘against’. Please don’t join issues with KSmith on this page so as not to tarnish this beautiful piece. Thank you.

  18. Apparently,If i’m struggling with English, you have a much longer way to go. It is my earnest wish that the few professional bloggers we have who place priority on ethics will continue to do the right thing. One of whose account i clicked to get here anyway, in restrospect i now consider a mistake.

  19. Thomas Jefferson had over 200 slaves while declaring that “all men were created equal …” American founding fathers were a bunch of hypocrites if you ask me

  20. FF, you did us a great service by taking time to address this issue of goverment officials bullying their way through everything and as in every arguement, you are either ‘for’ or ‘against’. Please don’t join issues with KSmith on this page so as not to tarnish this beautiful piece. Thank you.

  21. Well,

    To think RMD was knackered in this piece for impatient use of uncouth language.

    Its easy to critisize especially if one is ignorant of the basis of thet said arguements.

    Any person blogging should endeavour to let the world know if what is being posted is within the realm of personal knowledge or just grapevine material.

  22. Tunde: Abraham Lincoln was said to have regularly referred to black men as ‘niggers’. Didnt stop him from the emancipation declaration.
    They were men of their time.

    With the way the world is going, there are certain things we say as ‘normal’ today that will look really abhorrent in one generation or two from now.

    Especially when it comes to women and homosexuals. If a man referred to a homosexual as a ‘faggot’ in the 1970s, does that make the person a hypocrite as you say?

    You should be careful of intertemporal judgements.

  23. This is a most ridiculous article. In an attempt to appear well informed you have made an incredibly tedious connection where there isn’t one. The American Consitution does not now, and never will protect a Nigerian blog. It is true that most countries aspire to some degree of freedom of speech or another, but none are so free as the Americans. To have any credibilty, one must Judge Linda Ikeji’s blog by Nigerian standards and criticize RMD’s position using Nigerian laws. Till then, this is just an empty, pointless waste of words, and cyber posing. Cheers!

  24. Lola: But seriously do you really think I, by any stretch of the imagination, even insinuated that the American constitution will protect a Nigerian blog? Seriously?

    Na wa o.

  25. @Feyi, the responses to your article simply show that we Nigerians deserve the leadership we have. From those that simply do not understand your point to those that are totally ignorant and simply could have avoided displaying their ignorance by keeping quiet, it is clear that only God will help us.

  26. You’ve made my point FF. You write an article where you make reference to one thing in order to defend another, yet you yourself are now admitting that those two things can not possibly be related. Then please riddle me this, what is the point of your article? If you don’t mean to imply that the blog should be judged in light of the American constitution, why the lengthy diatribe? I am merely pointing out the fact that you have built your entire article on a faulty foundation (unlike say, if you’d used the Nigerian Constitution, or even some remote existing Cyber Ethics Law), but alas, as you have just told me, you already knew that… I am genuinely puzzled, but you are right, na wa o!
    Look, as far as I am concerned RMD is a terrible actor, and now probably a weasel politician just like the rest of them, but if you are going to attack someone under the guise of writing a legitimate critique, do a better job.

  27. Lola: I thought I could make a point about the origins of democracy and how those who envisioned it planned it to be.

    Like I said Nigeria did not invent democracy, we copied it wholesale.

    You were the one who brought in the red herring of the American constitution providing protection to a Nigerian blog, a completely useless point given that this was a discussion of general democratic principles

    Ho hum

  28. Hmmn. Feyi, allow me to share some advise with you. As a writer, you really should do a better job of navigating your audience through the maze of your words, because you bear at least 50% of the responsibilty for where those words take them. I reviewed the article again, thinking perhaps I’d missed the subtleties of your Ist amendment allusion, but as it turns out I didn’t. You talk about a blogger’s rights to free speech and the only major law you allude to is the American constitution….yet my point is far fetched? C’mon guy! My point remains. Lousy argument. Better luck with the next one.

  29. And by the way, my point wasn’t a red herring…you used that inaccurately too. Don’t try so hard Feyi.

  30. Lola: I went back to the origins of democracy to establish how freedom of speech fits into a democratic *ideal*.

    Nigeria is a young democracy and I concluded by saying we were on a journey and might fail if we don’t get it right

    I don’t know if I’m more shocked that you actually confessed to reading it again and missed the point of the WHOLE thing….or that you seem confident enough to give writing advice….as if I told you I’m an aspiring writer

    Try again…you know what they say – 3rd time’s the charm

  31. Feyi, ills try to keep my comments short. Suffice to say i dont agree with your conclusions and comments. I have never understood the penchant for americans to protect the right to free speech at all costs and while yes, it is important to have some measure of free speech, i am an ardent advocate of a more balanced view. The UK for example does not allow you to spout racist propaganda publically while the kkk in the US hide behind the right to free speech whenever they are taken to task on racial harassment, etc. The approach of the UK govt helps to marginalise the racist movement and reduces their sphere of influence. This is a great example of when curtailing free speech has worked out for the better of the society.

    On the issue of linda ikeji and RMD, i have no idea as to the truth or not of linda’s assertions/allegations, but she does have the responsibility to ethically use the public forum she now has. Its what is known as jounalistic (if we can indeed call her a journalist) integrity. You must, as far as possible, try to confirm and validate information that you have been given. It may be her right to say SHE BELIEVES RMD is a thief. It is quite another to say his house is worth 250million if it is not. It is not her right to say he IS (note that she is not stating an opinion here but presenting this as fact) a thief with no authoritative confirmation that this is the case. This difference is key in proving libel laws in the UK for example.

    RMD also has the right to defend himself if he believes untruths have been spoken about him. In any developed country, he would take to the ourts for redress.

    In conclusion, we must all remember that our words (written or spoken) carry a lot of power. Words form the basis of transfer of knowledge and education. We must therefore, endeavour to utilise such power with wisdom and ehical responsibility.

    My two cents!

  32. Feyi, ills try to keep my comments short. Suffice to say i dont agree with your conclusions and comments. I have never understood the penchant for americans to protect the right to free speech at all costs and while yes, it is important to have some measure of free speech, i am an ardent advocate of a more balanced view. The UK for example does not allow you to spout racist propaganda publically while the kkk in the US hide behind the right to free speech whenever they are taken to task on racial harassment, etc. The approach of the UK govt helps to marginalise the racist movement and reduces their sphere of influence. This is a great example of when curtailing free speech has worked out for the better of the society.

    On the issue of linda ikeji and RMD, i have no idea as to the truth or not of linda’s assertions/allegations, but she does have the responsibility to ethically use the public forum she now has. Its what is known as jounalistic (if we can indeed call her a journalist) integrity. You must, as far as possible, try to confirm and validate information that you have been given. It may be her right to say SHE BELIEVES RMD is a thief. It is quite another to say his house is worth 250million if it is not. It is not her right to say he IS (note that she is not stating an opinion here but presenting this as fact) a thief with no authoritative confirmation that this is the case. This difference is key in proving libel laws in the UK for example.

    RMD also has the right to defend himself if he believes untruths have been spoken about him. In any developed country, he would take to the ourts for redress.

    In conclusion, we must all remember that our words (written or spoken) carry a lot of power. Words form the basis of transfer of knowledge and education. We must therefore, endeavour to utilise such power with wisdom and ehical responsibility.

    My two cents!

  33. If you couldn’t so obviously accuse me of the same, I’d conclude that you were deliberately missing my point :-). But enough of all this. I clearly did not like your article, but my original comment was somewhat harsh, and the sarcasm and ridicule in subsequent comments were petty. I apologise; I should have been more civil.

  34. @Lola, it is apparent you do not know what the term “brown nosing ” means neither do you really recognize the import of the above written article. The writer states that “in his opinion” he considers the freedom of speech one of the most important attributes of the First Amendment because it protects the rights of the citizen to criticize the state. The writer then argues that similar protections should exist in Nigeria to protect people like Ms. Ikeji from the antics of RMD (whoever the hell that is). Instead of making a well informed argument, you twist yourself into a pretzel claiming that the writer is arguing that the U.S. Constitution should be applied in Nigeria. That is not what the writer said, he merely implied that these are standards we as Nigerians should aspire to. Try to take a class called English Comprehension, it will do you a lot of good.

  35. My dear Charles, wow, calm down; you are foaming in the mouth. I’ll try to be delicate. Brown nosing means inserting your head so deep into another individual’s arse, that you get excrement on your nose. 🙂 But you are the clever one, so if know another definition for it send it to Oxford. Ciao!

  36. I need something clarified here please. Is this post about ‘freedom of speech’ or something else? I have always said it and will always say it…one of the problems we have in Nigeria is pushing issues aside and attacking persons. *smh* No wonders they throw chairs at the senate.

  37. @Lola, by every additional stroke on your keyboard you continue to display your sense of ignorance. If I knew the writer of the blog then you could have accurately accused me of “brown nosing” as in to “curry favors”. Since I do not know the writer from Adam, supporting his view point does not amount to brown nosing. Further, I see you did not respond to my argument because you obviously had nothing intelligent to add to your last post.
    By your writing, it is obvious you have a certain level of formal education, but as you well know, not all educated people are intelligent.
    For your own good, again, take a course on English Comprehension, it will do you a whole lot of good.

  38. WOULDN’T WE SAY J TERRY WAS EXERCISING HIS FREEDOM OF SPEECH, FEYI AND CHARLES…PLS HELP ME, TRY ANOTHER CONFUSED ANALOGY, OFENCE IS OFENCE, RACE OR PAINTING ONE AS CORRUPTED…THE FREE IS NOT TO TURN AROUND AND ABUSE THEIR FREEDOM AND EXPECT THE SAME LAW THAT GAVE THEM THAT FREEDOM NOT TO PUNISH THEM- the American Bill of Rights, specifically the 1st Amendment, was intended to protect both sides, not just the citizens as you painted, the law should be equal to all and all equal under the law, or in specific cases used to correct a historic wrong. this is a clear case of bad ethics, we can take the likes of RMD as a politician that we may all not agree with and apply all the laws under the sun to his political or acting failure, we shouldn’t painted Ms Ikeji as the victim. address both of them individually, if they have not conducted themselves properly then say so-any half baked brain will see were your write up is going- there is nothing wrong in comparing the bill with our law and aspire to have same in nigeria. pls on both sides lets us not reward bad behavior. this lazy victim mentality is not letting us exercise our right in nigeria and fight the govt with our vote and collective strength, but to talk and not walk the talk- we disrespect other people’s right while exercising ours- in this case she could have exercised her right full without disrespecting his. after all Ferdinand is black and is mouth could have been smelling too, so why is it then an offence- first amendment needs to be applied with common sense, unless she is pleading insanity- it is even worse when she has financial gain by her action through her blog. i will not expect a thieves to sue someone calling him a their- but he has to be proven by the same law that upholds the freedom of speech- sometimes we classify wrong based on our own morals or prejudice-if he has threaten and abused her then he is as guilty as her, and being a politician should not come in…unless you are saying that he has used his political might to oppress or arrest her- as politician i humbly think he also has the right to take her to the court of law ( i wonder who go be the judge though-my joke), we should not be painting a david and goliath picture and blend it with 1 amendment- to stoke sympathy and create a victim here. by the way pls feel free to abuse me, i give you my share of freedom of speech without respect and dignity of our others-such a society is not the one 1 amendment intended to create. it will bliss to see 1 amendment adopted in nigeria, with common sense clause.

    BBC-“Anton Ferdinand has told a court he would have been “very hurt” if he had heard John Terry racially abuse him.

    Chelsea and England footballer Mr Terry, 31, is charged with a racially-aggravated public order offence – an allegation he denies.

    It relates to a comment allegedly made by the Chelsea captain to the QPR defender when the teams played at Loftus Road last October.

    The trial, set to last five days, is at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

    If found guilty, the maximum sentence Mr Terry could receive is a £2,500 fine.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote

    When someone brings your colour into it, it takes it to another level and it’s very hurtful”

    Anton Ferdinand
    It is alleged that the Chelsea defender insulted Mr Ferdinand by calling him black with the use of extreme sexual swear words.

    Lip reader and sign language interpreter Susan Whitewood concurred the bad language had been employed.

    Mr Ferdinand told the court that initially he did not think any racist terms had been used.

    But after the match, his girlfriend at the time played him a YouTube clip and he changed his mind.

    The QPR defender told the court that if he had realised at the time he would have told officials.

    “I would have been obviously very hurt and I probably wouldn’t have reacted at the time because, being a professional, you can’t do that.

    “I probably would have let the officials know what happened and dealt with it after the game,” he said.

    “When someone brings your colour into it, it takes it to another level and it’s very hurtful.”

    Under cross-examination, Mr Ferdinand said he was no stranger to being sworn at and agreed he had also sworn at players.

    The alleged racial obscenity was spoken during a match at Loftus Road
    At the QPR home match on 23 October, Chelsea were down to nine men when Mr Ferdinand and Mr Terry began trading insults over a penalty claim, the court heard.

    Asked why he was so angry with Mr Terry appealing for a penalty, Mr Ferdinand, describing himself as a “calm, collected player”, said: “Because I am a winner.”

    Proceedings in court have been punctuated by swear words but Mr Ferdinand insisted he did not use those words off the pitch.

    George Carter-Stephenson QC asked the witness if by shouting abuse at the Chelsea player he was “trying to get a rise out of Mr Terry and get him to react?”

    “Probably, yes,” responded Mr Ferdinand. “There wasn’t long left in the game.”

    The QC suggested that Mr Ferdinand had made up the allegation of racism as swearing at him and talking about his alleged affair was not having “the desired effect” of winding Mr Terry up.

    Mr Ferdinand denied this.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote

    We’re still having ding-dong”

    John Terry
    Mr Carter-Stephenson also suggested the player only decided to go to police when persuaded by his agent Justin Rigby.

    But Mr Ferdinand replied: “No, I made up my own mind, I wanted to do it.”

    In re-examination, he said he was initially reluctant to talk to the police because it was a sporting issue.

    “This is a footballing issue that happened on the football pitch where we work,” Mr Ferdinand told the court.

    The Chelsea captain was allowed out of the dock into the well of the court to view footage of the alleged insult.

    ‘Bad breath’
    The court heard that Mr Terry maintains he was only sarcastically repeating words that Mr Ferdinand wrongly thought he had used, during the match which was broadcast to millions of people.

    Opening the prosecution, Duncan Penny said: “The Crown’s case is that the words were abusive and insulting in a straightforward sense.”

    He added that a racially abusive obscenity had been uttered “demonstrating hostility based on Mr Ferdinand’s membership of a racial group”.

    “They were uttered by the defendant in response to goading by Mr Ferdinand on the issue of his extra-marital affair, rather than by way of exaggerated and instant querying of a perceived false allegation,” he said.

    Two TV clips and footage not previously broadcast of the incident, normally used for training purposes, were shown to the court.

    The trial heard that Mr Ferdinand said something about the Chelsea player’s alleged affair and made fist gestures, before Mr Terry responded.

    Chelsea team-mates John Mikel Obi and Ashley Cole were nearby when insults were traded, but they will not be called as witnesses as part of the prosecution case.

    ‘It’s handbags’
    In a statement to the Football Association five days afterwards, Mr Terry said that he and Mr Ferdinand had been exchanging “verbals” and he had made a gesture to imply Mr Ferdinand had bad breath.

    He said: “We’re still having a, sort of, ding-dong, if you like,” adding that was when the QPR player had used a racially abusive obscenity.

    Mr Terry said he did not think Mr Ferdinand was referring to him, but nevertheless he still took “strong offence”.

    John Terry said he and the QPR player had been exchanging “verbals”
    The England defender said he was not offended by the taunts about the alleged affair with Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend, because “it’s not the first time I’ve heard it, so it’s with a pinch of salt a little bit now”.

    But he said he was angered by any accusation that he might have used a racist insult.

    After the match, Mr Terry asked a steward to get Mr Ferdinand from the dressing room.

    The Chelsea player said in his statement that he had asked Mr Ferdinand if he was accusing him of using racially abusive language towards him.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote

    Whilst footballers are used to industrial language, using racist terms is completely unacceptable whatever [the] situation”

    John Terry (statement)
    Later, in an interview, he added: “I’m being honest and open with you guys, that I didn’t mean it in the context that, if you watch the video and me, watching the video, you can quite easily say that doesn’t look good.

    “But at the same time, in the context of what I thought Anton accused me of, you know, no-one can argue what my feelings were at that time.”

    Immediately after the match, Mr Ferdinand did not think that Mr Terry had used racist words, the court heard.

    “It’s handbags innit – it’s what happens on the pitch”, he said, and the two shook hands.

    In a statement made to police last November, Mr Terry said he was offended by the accusation that he had used racist language.

    “Whilst footballers are used to industrial language, using racist terms is completely unacceptable whatever [the] situation,” the statement read.

    “I was completely taken aback by this remark as I have never been accused of something like that and I did not take his remark lightly at all, and took strong offence to his suggestion.”

    Police questioned the ex England captain under caution in November 2011 after a complaint from a member of the public following the Premier League match.

    As a summary offence under the Crime and Disorder Act, the trial will be fully dealt with in a magistrates’ court, with no jury, and is being heard by Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle.

    Anton Ferdinand has played for West Ham, Sunderland and QPR and is the brother of Rio Ferdinand, John Terry’s England team-mate and defensive partner for the national side.”

  39. I’m confused Feyi, you tweet all day, everyday. Do you you even make time for your wife and kid? Do you love your wife? Is Twitter an escape route for you? I see a psychological pattern here, get in touch with me if you need help.

  40. I’m confused Feyi, you tweet all day, everyday. Do you you even make time for your wife and kid? Do you love your wife? Is Twitter an escape route for you? I see a psychological pattern here, get in touch with me if you need help.

  41. I’m confused Feyi, you tweet all day, everyday. Do you you even make time for your wife and kid? Do you love your wife? Is Twitter an escape route for you? I see a psychological pattern here, get in touch with me if you need help.

  42. I’m confused Feyi, you tweet all day, everyday. Do you you even make time for your wife and kid? Do you love your wife? Is Twitter an escape route for you? I see a psychological pattern here, get in touch with me if you need help.

  43. Hi Concerned Psychologist: Thanks a lot for the offer. Can you send me your contact details so I can book an appointment.

    I’d love to come sit on your couch

  44. I sincerely believe that concerned Pscyhologist is LINDA IKEJI, she does that to every blogs that attack her. Believe me.

    Hello Linda Ikeji YOU ARE THE JOBLESS ONE WHO GOSSIP AND LOOK INTO OTHER’S LIVES!!!!

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