A former employee of The New Times was on Wednesday night nabbed in an act related to what led to his dismissal. He attempted to extort money from a city hotel owner by threatening over a telephone call to write a story on him in this newspaper. The story would have been about how the proprietor mistreats his hotel staff.
According to the extortionist journalist, the story was going to be published yesterday, unless the businessman did something to stop it.
Indeed the hotelier did something, though it turned out to be what the scribe least expected: Emile immediately reached out to the newspaper’s management, humbly demanding to know whether it was true the paper had a story ready for print, which implicated him in alleged unfair treatment of his hotel staff.
He was assured there was no such story, and told that even if it was there, the decision to run it or not would only be reached after hearing his side of the story. It was from the latter part of the meeting that led to Godwin Agaba’s arrest and the story about that on the front page of the edition you are reading now.
Agaba had been relieved of his duties last year over refusing to pay taxi charges until his victim appealed to management. Before that he had ignored settling his restaurant bills, complying only after the matter was brought to the human resource office by a lady who had all along thought she offered credit to a true journalist.
It soon came to a point where we felt his trickery rate was compromising our ethical standards. It was eating into the very base onto which our business is founded – moral uprightness.
Breach of this cardinal journalistic principle made him unemployable for us, but little did we know that even after leaving he would go on doing the same, in our name.
To our esteemed readers and the general public who have ever fallen victim to the unprofessional flaws of some among us, we do sincerely apologise.
We also highly appreciate the effort and courage of people like the Impala Hotel owner, who bring to our attention the bad behaviour of a few in our trade.
While we are eager to retain the society watchdog tag, we wish to acknowledge that the same society has a noble duty to point out our excesses. Ours is a partnership with the citizens.