Tuesday, February 4, 2014

On Tobore Ovuorie and The Alleged Expose of a Human Trafficking Syndicate

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I am one of those who was filled with doubt after I read the report on Premuim Times about their investigative reporter, Tobore Ovuorie. Her account of spending 4 months undercover after infiltrating a human trafficking syndicate operating between Abuja and Lagos tallied with a lot of what we've all heard, watched on TV or at the movie, and it bothered me that for such a high profile "expose", there was no shred of evidence.
The article is titled a "bust" but no one has been arrested, we do not even know a single person in the syndicate nor where they are. There were no names mentioned except first names of some prostitutes, and one police officer. We are told of an party and orgy with retired officers, but no names, no exact street address. There were a few blurred out pictures that could have been of anyone, and then Tobore has  a low cut now, the only thing different about her after such an ordeal.

Some sore points;

- In her narrative, Tobore mentioned that five well dressed people came in for a package, and then in an editorial, she said they were three. Which was it?

- I noticed that Tobore's articles for Premium Times had been consistent for most of last year though the undercover stint was said to have lasted from around July to November. Was she writing articles while attending orgies, befriending Madams, and crossing the border as a wannabe Italo?

- Her phone which had recorded the good bad and ugly incidents at the camp, which venue formed the climax of her assignment, was so so very conveniently taken away.

Others like Ikhide Ikheloa have even more questions, and he had even gotten a response from Premium Times managers and ZAM Chronicle, the Amsterdam based sponsor of the investigation who have published the story about Tobore’s undercover work widely.

Chika Unigwe collected over 100 signatures to start a petition to the Police IG to investigate the story, especially the policeman who had been named.

Lesley Gene Agams, a lawyer in Abuja is outrightly calling for a withdrawal of the story and an apology.

As more information has emerged, it is clear there's something not so straight about the whole arrangement. Tobore is touted as an award winning investigative journalist, but the award is from a group operated by the same owners of Premuim Times, and the award came AFTER her undercover stint.

Tobore was also present at a workshop on human trafficking last year, where stories of victims were shared, many of them very similar to the account in her report for Premium Times and ZAM Chronicle.

While I do not doubt that human trafficking and ritual murders occur in Nigeria, and need to be investigated with more resources and credibility, I'll want more proof before I can take Tobore's account as fact. Writers are supposed to throw up a mirror to society, but for Journalists, this role is best served by telling the truth not fiction.

1 comment:

  1. i totally agree with you. It all just seems like a very cool story


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