Kazeem Popoola, the initiator of Nigerian Broadcasters Awards, and a former entertainment writer with the National Mirror Newspapers whose entertainment page with the national Mirror, tagged Entervaganza, has contributed immensely to the continuous transformation of the entertainment industry had recently being relieved of his job after there was a fallout between him and the Managing Director/ Editor-in-Chief of National Mirror over his trip to South Africa to cover the opening ceremony of the 2012 edition of the Big Brother Africa StarGame. The fallout that led to series of other issues prompted his sack which according to Kazeem was like a fairy tale, better imagined than to believe. In this excerpt, Kazeem expresses his disappointment over his summary dismissal, even as he asserts that the management of National Mirror got it all wrong in their reason for his sack, affirming that they were yet to disclose why he was asked to leave.
Kazeem had told our correspondent that it was high time he reacted to the sack and a host of other injustices done to him after National Mirror had cooked up different lies against him in their different publications since the National Mirror/ Charly Boy saga started.
He said “ Haven noted that silence is a criminal offence in the face of injustice; I have decided to break my silence over my exit from National Mirror newspaper and my link to the gay/ Illuminati story published about Charlyboy on Saturday Mirror.
“It is still like a fairy tale to me, considering the way I left National Mirror with so much injustices inflicted on my person.
“The saga began on Thursday May 3, 2012, when I decided to embark on a trip to South Africa to cover the official opening of the 2012 edition of the Big Brother Africa Star Game. I didn’t really take MultiChoice, the organizers of the yearly TV reality show, seriously when I got the letter that I was part of the two Nigerian journalists selected to make the trip to South Africa to cover the event. This is because I had been selected in the past three editions of the event, but later dropped few days before the opening ceremony, so I had thought that the last invitation I got would not be different from their past failed promises. However, they debunked my misgivings when they called me at MultiChoice office to get my name registered for the trip. Little did I know that the MD/ Editor-in-Chief of National Mirror Newspapers, Steve Ayorinde had been snooping around their offices just to know who will be travelling from National Mirror? On arrival at their office, I was approached by one of their staff who asked to know whether the MD was aware of my plan to travel. Because I had not told Steve, I was advised by the same person to go and discuss the development with him. I decided that I was going to discuss the matter with him before I travel. However, after I collected my visa to South Africa, we were told to get prepared to fly that same day.
“I quickly rushed to the office and was told that Steve was looking for me. I hurriedly ran into his office to update him on the development. He asked me to do them a letter if I was the one travelling for the show. I quickly rushed over the letter since I was supposed to be travelling that same day, and also considering that I had to finish my weekend stories before travelling. When I finished, I had to drop a letter for him and also copied Saturday Editor as earlier instructed. I also took my time to explain to my editor how the whole South African thing started, stressing on how it took me by surprise. After I had done that, I left to go and complete my materials for Saturday edition. I left the office around 4.30 that same day, and headed to go and prepare for my trip.
Narrating how National Mirror tried to frustrate his trip, Kazeem said “When I was around Ikorodu, by 6.30 pm to be precise, I got a call from my editor who wanted to know if I had been permitted by the Admin before embarking on the trip. I told her that I wasn’t told to do so, and that I had done what I was told to do. She then put me through to Steve who denied that what I did was not what he instructed me to do. I just didn’t want to argue with him on the phone when he asked me to return back to the office, that I was no longer travelling. I had wanted to go back to the office, but it then means that I was going to miss my flight, so I decided to call the MultiChoice’s Head of Corporate Affairs to explain the situation to him, who in turns told me not to bother so much about the development as he was going to talk to him on my behalf. I felt relieved momentarily after that assurance.
“I had to send Steve a text message that same evening to explain why I was unable to go back to the office as he had requested. Unfortunately, I got a query letter from National mirror stating that I absconded from the office.
Speaking on how he felt when the query got to him, Kazeem said ”With such terrible news, the aim of my trip to South Africa was partially defeated as I couldn’t concentrate on what I went to do in South Africa. I returned back to Nigeria on Monday May 7, very ill and reported back to work.
I was advised to see Steve in order to resolve the issue and when I tried to do so, I was confronted with the big question” are you still working in this office? He walked out on me angrily saying that I took him for a fool, after which I did a reply to the query I received when I was in S.A.
On Thursday May 10, after I had finished my weekend stories, I was then handed over a letter of an indefinite suspension. Because, I was very ill, I couldn’t wait for my editor to come to the office before I left, as I was only able to reach her via SMS when I had already gotten to the house.
Speaking on how National Mirror connected his sack to the Charlyboy/ National Mirror’s saga, Kazeem said “It was when I was on suspension that a story was published on National Mirror website that Charlyboy had confessed being gay and head of Illuminati in Nigeria. I felt bad when some people began to throw darts at me that I was the one who published the story on National Mirror because it was published even in my name.
“Charlyboy who responded almost immediately had issued a press released warning National Mirror to retract the story. Both my denial of not having any knowledge of the published story as well as Charlyboy press release were published on Nigerian Broadcaster’s Awards Website, which Steve believed was owned by me. Surprisingly, instead of calling me back from suspension for what they termed ‘Disobedience’, it was sack letter they e-mailed to me. They wrote in the letter that I have been dismissed for my action toward Charly Boy gay story.
As I speak to you, my salary for the month of April has not been paid. Although, the initial indefinite suspension took effect from Thursday May 10, 2012, my April salary ought to have been paid even before I went on Suspension. This has made me to understand the speculation going around that somebody used me as a scape-goat in order to get what he wants from MultiCchoice. I wonder why someone should because of his own selfish gain deal with me. It is ridiculous.
“So ridiculous is the fact that I was not given a sack letter because I travelled to South Africa, but my letter of sack was based on my disloyalty to National mirror as a result of Charlyboy’s press release published on website that did not carry my name neither my byline. I still wonder why the issue of loyalty to Charlyboy didn’t come up prior to now , I wonder why it is now that Nation Mirror which I had worked with for the past four years (Three years with old Mirror and a year plus with new) could suddenly turn around and begin to talk about my disloyalty to the company. It is quite amazing. It’s amazing that the same writer (National Mirror staff) who presently writes for Ed Jato and National Mirror, and who is equally responsible for the publication of the gay story has not be dealt with. Believe me, there are more questions than answers.”
Reacting to the claim by Ed Jato that Charlyboy admitted being gay and head of Illuminati in Nigeria, Kazeem said “As for the case between National Mirror, Charlyboy and ED Jato, I was with Charlyboy in his hotel room in Ikeja when Jato called to inquire if an interview with the Areafada was possible. I had told Charlyboy that Jato shouldn’t be granted that interview due to his antics and considering what he ( Jato) had said about Charlyboy when he returned from abroad a couple of years ago. It was like granting an interview to an enemy. What would one expect from such enemy? I was not surprised when the gay allegation came up because I knew Jato was going to capitalize on that opportunity to rubbish CB, aside that, it was also an opportunity for him to launch himself back as a failed artiste. I was with them throughout the duration of the interview, and I didn’t hear at any point when Charlyboy told Jato that he was gay and Head of Nigerian Illuminati. It’s quite hilarious to note that Jato would attempt to sell his brand through such a cheap publicity”
Kazeem affirmed that unless he was out of the hotel when the comment was made or Charlyboy made the comment somewhere else, if not, he would refer to Jato’s claim as a white lie. “I was with them during the interview, and I didn’t hear anything like that. I remember hearing Charlyboy telling Jato that there is nothing he could actually do successfully.
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