I woke up some days ago, to the muted whispers in the Nigerian cyberspace, that our own answer to the Huffington Post, Linda Ikeji, was in a pickle.
Many prayed, as we are wont to do, that the Lord would deliver her from all her enemies.
The source was said to be one Mr Aydee, who was also known as Mr Dan 'Iyan, also known as Mr Effremov. (Take your pick).
The allegations were that she had used the intellectual property of others, without permission. What people of intellectual pursuits refer to as plagiarism.
Linda Ikeji is our answer to Ariana Hufffinton, and Oprah Winfrey! She is the reason many bother to read anything longer than two lines online. She has a cult following, that many would find hard to fathom, since nothing serious is ever discussed on her platform.
Linda Ikeji's Blog is the go to place for all things salacious,and licentious. Her ability to gauge what gossip would sell is uncanny, and the volume of traffic, and advertising revenue, brought her wealth aplenty.
Did Linda Ikeji use materials produced by others, without their permission? Yes! She pretty much admitted it! She felt the need to publish quickly, outweighed what was required by the law: written permission to publish what was generated by others.
To justify her actions, she also accused the instigator of her blog's demise of doing the same.
Linda Ikeji, is a victim of a wide systemic malady that ails our land: the belief that the rules that the rest of the world play by, do not apply to us.
Some of her ardent supporters claimed that it was envy, as a result of her posting a photograph of her brand new twenty four million naira Range Rover. This, however, is a simplistic, myopic, and uninformed view of what is a very serious, ethical, and legal, issue.
The advent of the internet, and the concomitant offshoots like self-publishing, blogging, and social media, has resulted in many people playing roles they ordinarily would not be allowed to play in the real world.
Many people have died from following dodgy medical advice, and remedies offered online. In addition, some strange people believe that once something has been published on the internet, it must be true!
The sad reality, is that in the real world, Linda Ikeji was playing the role of an information gatekeeper, people we normally refer to as journalists!
Some of us sat down in press law class to learn about libel, slander, plagiarism , and all the other land mines that litter the journalism terrain!
Others, through working in a proper newsroom, were tutored in these same time honoured codes.
Linda Ikeji has just detonated one! She is not the victim of a witch hunt, but a violator of a time honoured code: the ethics that govern information use, and dissemination.
In the academia, the whiff of an allegation of plagiarism , not even the proof, is sometimes all that is required to ruin a person's reputation, amongst his peers!
I have no doubt that Linda will definitely "bounce back"! Hopefully, she would have picked up a very vital lesson: that, because a material is juicy, and is on the internet, "unguarded", does not mean that it does not belong to anyone, or that it belongs to all of us to use as we please.
Someone made an effort to generate that material! He, or she, made a phone call, took a cab, or flew to conduct an interview, or take a photograph. To use another's material, without permission, is theft!
And, as she has found out to her hurt, there are sanctions for theft, even in cyberspace.
Nigeria is a part of the world, we may be behind physical geographical boundaries, but the rest of the world, do not view those boundaries as a license for us to kick the rules in the teeth.