A little background is required to this post. Africa has a huge number of internet “news” sites, which are basically advertising portals. These sites will publish anything that comes their way, often with hundreds of similar sites publishing exactly the same article. These sites are not a good place to get your news from, but some of them have quite a large presence on social media and can be an effective way to get your message out to an audience. SCOAN are adept at exploiting this resource. Ex-SCOAN members have revealed that disciples are often put to task writing pro-TB Joshua content in a pseudo-journalistic style for sites like this.
Ever since the building tragically collapsed in September, SCOAN have been flailing about, desperately trying to control the story. First they tried to downplay it as a minor accident with a few people trapped who were being rescued. Then, as the gravity of the situation became apparent, TB Joshua started pointing the finger at various sources, a strange unidentified flying object, Boko Haram, the US Government*, a controlled explosion, basically anything except the obvious – shoddy workmanship, greed and an illegal extension.
The inquest is now in full flow, the controlled explosion theory has been dismissed, it has been confirmed the building was illegally constructed, and TB Joshua has been summoned to court, with the threat of arrest if he doesn’t attend. SCOAN are getting desperate, so desperate it would appear they have resorted to threats of terrorism.
Today, an article bearing all the hallmarks of a covert SCOAN PR piece (more on that later) has been doing the rounds on the aforementioned “news” websites. This article claims that militant group MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) have claimed responsibility for the controlled explosion and are threatening to launch a terrorist attack on the Ikela High Court premises if the inquiry into the SCOAN building collapse continues (excerpt below, full email here).
So why do we say this is a covert SCOAN PR piece? Consider the following:
- We can’t find a single other article online by the author (a citizen journalist)
- How could this unknown citizen journalist have got his hands on an actual email sent to the Lagos Ministry of Justice?
- It’s not published on a single credible news site conducting real journalism (despite the fact it would be a bombshell revelation if true)
- Why would a terrorist group admit to the Ministry of Justice that they were responsible for a terrorist attack and they are planning to attack the inquiry into it so it doesn’t find out that they were responsible for the terrorist attack that they’ve just admitted to? (“oh, and by the way – if there is an attack on the High Court, that was us too!”)
- What kind of terrorist group conducts attacks seemingly with no motive, no demands, and then tries to stop anyone from finding out they were responsible?
- What motive could MEND (a group who claim to be fighting for the equitable distribution of Nigeria’s oil wealth) have to secretly attack SCOAN?
- The email references key elements from the narrative SCOAN have been spinning over the last month (controlled explosion, high tech weapons)
- The threat comes just 2 days before TB Joshua is due to appear in court
Finally, but most significantly
- Who benefits from the inquiry shutting down more than SCOAN?
In someways I can’t believe I’ve just written this article, the MEND claims are so baseless and absurd it could seem fruitless spending the time pointing this out, but TB Joshua’s PR team can be effective at getting their message out (the article has been shared hundreds of times on social media), and there are still quite a few people looking for any and every reason to exonerate TB Joshua from the SCOAN disaster. If/when it is discovered that TB Joshua was behind this fake story, threats of terrorism can be added to the list of charges against him.
* you could argue this didn’t come direct from SCOAN, but the article also bears all the hallmarks of a SCOAN piece, and a few days later an article was published on a SCOAN connected blog which seemed to endorse this theory.