Aare Afe Babalola
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Afe Babalola has written President Muhammadu Buhari, insisting that his client, Mr. Akin Fadeyi is the creator of the anti-corruption media campaign project ‘Not in My Country,’ and not the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Lai Mohammed.
In a letter dated September 29, 2016, Babalola stated that the clarification by his client would enable the president to come to appreciate his client’s status as “a partner in the pious goals of this administration and the need to thoroughly investigate the issues surrounding the media report”.
Babalola maintained that his client chose to remain silent for three crucial reasons.
“First, our client is a private business man genuinely concerned with advancing our Nigerian society by innovative thinking and development projects, not a politician with any vested interests. Second, as shown below, the ‘Not in My Country’ anti-corruption campaign project is a product of our client’s lifelong vision to do something towards ridding our society of the cankerworm of decadence. On this point alone, our client has the same goals as the present administration in tackling corruption effectively at the grassroots.
“Third, our client will not sacrifice this noblest of goals on the altar of claiming his personal individual rights, especially not in a way capable of being bastardized or confused with propaganda, among other distractions. That is not to say our client will not defend his work and hard-earned intellectual property rights in a court of competent jurisdiction at the appropriate time. “Indeed, our client awaits Alhaji Lai Mohammed to make good his threats to sue him, in preparation for which he has instructed our law firm to commence the preparation of processes in answer to any summons filed against him. Without a doubt, when our client responds to any processes filed, his actions and motives will be clear and unmistakable,” he explained.
Babalola described Fadeyi as “an enterprising young man with over a decade experience in initiating, coordinating and executing national (re)orientation and other development projects in Nigeria”.
According to him, Fadeyi conceived and initiated the ‘Not in My Country’ anti-corruption campaign project in 2007 at the University of Lagos.
Babalola revealed that in a letter granting Fadeyi’s request to use the university premises for ‘a three minutes clip demo tape on Saturday, September 29, 2007’, the Principal Assistant Registrar of the university had acknowledged that the “…project is on national re-orientation campaign aimed at changing the attitudes of youths for the better especially in the area of examination malpractices and moral integrity”
“Thus, our client has records of having presented some of his drama skits to officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in 2007. In 2008, our client took the project to Messrs Joseph Adeyeye, Casmir Igbokwe and Steve Ayorinde, the current Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lagos, who was then Editor of the Punch. Since then, our client kept developing this project into the media campaign to eradicate corruption over time- using the 1-minute drama skit model- which our client has perfected in his ‘Not in My Country’ project,” Babalola explained..
Babalola further stated that it was this fully developed one-minute drama skit model that Fadeyi presented in a proposal to Mohammed on December 30, 2015, to enlist the minister’s cooperation to facilitate the broadcast of the already prepared skits on the Nigerian Television Authority.
Babalola also told the President that after watching the three one-minute skits, the minister was so impressed with the project that he commended Fadeyi for having effectively harnessed the ‘power of drama and time (one minute)’ and agreed in principle to partner with him on this project.
“However, the minister indicated that he was yet ruminating on a ‘Change Begins with Me’ idea of his own which he wanted our client to reflect in the ‘Not in my Country’ project. Thus, it was agreed at that meeting that our client should go back to location and re-shoot the drama skits to reflect the minister’s ‘Change Begins with Me’ as the pay-off line in the ‘Not in My Country’ videos,” Babalola said.
Babalola also recalled that upon completion of the video reshoot, Fadeyi sent the minister text messages intimating him that the job was done, and later met with him at the Southern Sun Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, where the minister was meeting with some musical artists.
According to Babalola, the minister gave Fadeyi his email contact and asked that the reworked videos be sent to him via email, which Fadeyi did.
Babalola alleged that having received Fadeyi’s drama materials, the minister held on to them without communicating with Fadeyi any further.
“All attempts to reach and meet with him again were evidently rebuffed by the minister. Undaunted, our client reverted to the original skits first presented to the minister and produced many more skits of the Not in My Country drama. This was launched publicly to wide media coverage on the 3rd of May, 2016 in a well-attended event at Leadway/Protea Hotel, Maryland, Ikeja. The countless media coverage of news stories, opinions and columns are available in print and electronic media for all to see. Thereafter, our client embarked on an aggressive nationwide stakeholder engagement. Despite the minister’s silence after receiving the work, our client sent him a reminder letter, newspaper cuttings of his launch and a comprehensive copy of his Not in My Country project on the 9th of June 2016. Till date, the Hon. Minister has not replied any of these correspondences,” Babalola added.