, the outspoken Special Assistant on Social Media to President Goodluck Jonathan, was yesterday unmasked as the brain behind a fraudulent attempt to link Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to the recent spike in Boko Haram violence in Borno and Yobe States. In one of the recent attacks, Boko Haram terrorists slaughtered some 60 secondary school students at their boarding house.
Posing as “Wendell Simlin,” Mr. Omokri circulated a Word document linking the former CBN Governor to the recent attacks. The ruse was however uncovered when some Internet-savvy Nigerians traced the IP address of the source document and it turned out that it had been authored and circulated by Mr. Omokri.
This scandal, the latest in a series of ethical and corruption issues rocking the Jonathan administration, set Twitter on fire today. Outraged Nigerians called for Mr. Omokri’s sack. The timing of Mr. Omokri’s fraudulent act is particularly insensitive, with many commentators questioning why a member of President Jonathan’s inner circle would seek to capitalize on the blood of slaughtered innocent children by forging documents to implicate a perceived “enemy” of the Jonathan administration.
Mr. Omokri’s callous forgery began to unfold today at about 11.54 a.m. (Nigerian time) when certain media outlets and editors received an email from one Wendell Simlin (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the headline “Increased Tempo of Boko Haram/Terrorist Activity in the Wake of the Sanusi Saga”.
The email included a Word document which sought to use spurious circumstantial evidence laced with a heavy dose of innuendo to suggest that the renewed Boko Haram attacks in the Northeast were linked to Mr. Sanusi’s recent suspension as CBN governor.
Curiously, the document also contained attacks on Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, the father of the jailed Christmas Day Underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Mutallab.
Several tech-savvy individuals tried to ascertain who the author was and why such critical information was emerging from a “strange” and unknown name. The investigations turned up the following evidence:
1. They found a Wendell Simlin on Facebook with only one photo. That photo had Mr. Reno Omokri in it. While the photo has since been deleted, a screenshot was taken before the deletion and it is hereby published.
2. Further circumstantial evidence, such as friendships on Facebook, including ‘liked’ pages, strongly linked the account of Mr. Simlin to Mr Omokri. Some Internet investigators also discovered that there was a lot of interaction linking the “shadowy” Mr. Simlin to Mr Omokri as far back as 2010.
3. A check of the IP address from which the email was sent indicated somewhere around the Kubwa area in Abuja with the IP address of 18.104.22.168.
4. But the most damning evidence was found in the Word document “Simlin” sent out as news, which had the author’s name as Reno Omokri. Those who received the original email have also done a check and confirmed that Mr. Omokri’s name was on it. Investigations further confirmed the person who saved and edited the document to be Mr. Omokri. Both screenshots are reproduced here.
Prior to today’s development, Mr. Omokri had already developed a reputation for a pattern of using a variety of identities (aliases and screen names) on the Internet to attack and smear the names of perceived enemies of Mr. Jonathan.
Analysts say that, even if Mr. Omokri was acting alone, the fact that he is officially a Special Assistant to the President implicates the Presidency in his callous effort to exploit a shocking tragedy in order to smear the former CBN Governor. The unmasking of Mr. Omokri as the author and mastermind of the grave forgery is likely to dent the Presidency as it sends the message that Mr. Jonathan may secretly encourage the very dirty tactics to which he publicly objects.