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The Nation news reporter, Shola O’Neil reportedly received a death threat from some Worri youth over the publication headlined “Trouble In Worri Kingdom” and a follow-up story “Warri Kingdom crisis: The Nation reporter gets death threats,” published on March 28.
Shola had reported the passage of the Olu of Warri Ogiame Ikenwoli in a publication he headlined “Trouble In Worri Kingdom” giving details of the late Worri king without holding anything back.
After the publication Shola said he received calls from unknown Worri youth who threatened his life, he said “It is true that my telephone lines have not stopped ringing since Sunday. The threats are coming mostly from private numbers and concerned Itsekiri friends who advised me to be careful and to avoid certain parts of the oil city.”
“Some of the callers expressed ‘disappointment’ at me for doing the report. But there were also others who commended me for the boldness to treat the subject without fear or favour.”
According to the Nation, Shola was only “doing legitimate reportage, and not accused of presenting fiction as fact, be in harm’s way?”
The Nation in response to the threat established that unknown youth from Warri threatened Shola for covering “their numbers and swearing Armageddon, simply because these “youths” don’t like the content of the reporter’s story?”
The response report reads in part “Okay, when royal personages pass, there is always the conflict of modernity versus tradition. Modernity wants to break news, in the best tradition of an open and democratic society.
“But tradition insists on own protocols: the king doesn’t die; he only transits to higher realms. Covering his passage, as that of any of the hoi polloi, could be frowned upon as sacrilege. That is understood — which is why reports must be filed with due sensitivity to the host people’s tradition and custom, especially here, as it concerns core culture and royal practices.
“But hey, that line is not always respected, by often overzealous reporters. Why, when Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the late Ooni of Ife passed, a senior journalist and columnist even went to town with an “Abobaku” (Yoruba for die-with-the-King) fib — a long abandoned custom — claiming such a rite of passage accompanied the late Ooni’s passage. It did not. So, these modernity-tradition tension and conflicts abound.
“Still, the reporter would file what (s)he thinks is newsworthy; and the reading publics wouldn’t like every bit of it. Indeed, the immediate culture public could frown at it all. But everyone would talk about it, and with adequate feedback and mutual respect, folks would get over it and life goes on.”
“But the faceless youth threatening life? Perish the thought! That’s no way to go. A society that threatens to take life, just because it can’t face conflicts, which are everyday affairs, is buried in the past.
“Warri, the famous oil-rich city, and the Iteskiri, with their pomp and ceremony, should be way past all that. There should be no such barbaric worry over Warri.
The report also stated that the elders of Itsekiri royal court also called Shola, in what appears to be a polite protest, over segments of the story they dislike.
Shola said, “All the well-known Itsekiri chiefs and leaders who called were civil even while disagreeing with some parts of the report they deemed as sacrilegious.
Meanwhile, The Nation in its response gives Kudos to the Itsekiri royal court who called in a civilised manner to expressed their discomfort with the publication adding that with “feedback and mutual respect, everyone gets better informed; and crisis is averted the next time round.”