On Saturday March 20, 2021, we ran a story on Niger Delta Connect and her partner platform, Scannews with the caption: “Exclusive: Investors Panic as Baraza Cooperative Society suspends payment for one month“.
The story was written and published after an in-depth investigation by one of our correspondents, who also relied on the disturbing reports sent by members of the public into our newsroom and the endless testimonies of some investors whose monthly due date for payment had long elapsed without receiving any money.
There were serious concerns that we highlighted in the story based on the fallout of the last virtual meeting of Baraza as captured in their resolution. It was public knowledge that Baraza had suspended the admission of new investors, put on hold all forms of payment for the month of April and contemplating a downward review of the 25 percent monthly Return on Investment (ROI). All of these raised the red flag and made investors to panic.
By every journalistic standard, the story was fair, objective and balanced. The story was based on human interest, especially against the background that the people have a right to know what was happening to their investment. The story was not in anyway intended to embarrass the management of Baraza Multipurpose Cooperative Society. It was also not done with a sinister motive and so it came to us as a rude shock when the President /Chief Executive Officer of Baraza, one Miebi Bribena decided to come after us with hired social media thugs, some going as far as making public threats of physical assault to us.
Not done, and acting like a wounded lion, the said Bribena, decided to also use his personal social media platforms to cast aspersions on us, particularly with the aim of causing reputation damage in the process.
Like many members of the public, we reckon that Bribena’s intention was to divert attention from the crisis rocking his Baraza, whip up unnecessary sentiments and draw some form of sympathy from some of his investors. He also wanted to intimidate us to desist from further digging deep into the issues bedevilling his organization.
In the light of the foregoing, we view his conduct to objective media reportage as reprehensive, oppressive, draconian and imperialistic. History has repeatedly shown that it is people with this crude tendency that are the forces frustrating the Freedom of Information Act to thrive.
It is his likes that would love to see the implementation of laws to gag the media because they want to always insulate themselves from criticism no matter how constructive. Bribena’s vitriolic attack is an affront on the press and free speech of citizens and cannot be condoned.
Be he reminded that the media cannot be easily silenced. For us, our resilience and irrepressible spirit cannot be broken. A million Bribena cannot stop our pursuit for a fair and just society. We will overcome him and his plans to put us in perpertual oblivion. We will never let our head hang down.
Ordinarily, we expect that as the head of trade in Baraza, Bribena will take time to concentrate on the fluctuating Forex market and ensure that he does everything possible to put his business on a sound footing again, win the rapidly depleting confidence of his investors and restore sanity but he is busy engaging every Tom, Dick and Harry on social media in war of words.
Most of those who are pointing out his flaws, including his ever growing flamboyant lifestyle are doing so out of clear conscience and love for him.
There is no investor who can ever be comfortable seeing his fund manager living unguarded flamboyant lifestyle.
Bribena doesn’t understand that many of his critics want him to get out of his current predicament soon enough but he has refused to allow his seemingly petty emotions to see their genuine intentions.
Reflecting on his tirades, intolerance to press freedom, freedom of speech and his combatant approach, we are very much concerned that the same Bribena, a serving pastor of an internationally acclaimed church, Believers LoveWorld (Christ Embassy) could continue to conduct himself in such an ungodly manner. If his conduct is not embarrassing to the church, we wonder what else will.
In view of his combatant approach to the media and criticism, Bribena needs to be told that a person who manages public /investor funds must be ready for public scrutiny.
He needs to be reminded again that God shapes His servants through trials. He entrusted Job, Joseph, Daniel, Moses, David, Isaiah, Paul and many others with major trials. We remember most of them today because they faced great trials. Had they never faced a major trial, we probably wouldn’t know their name. Paul said that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). God still uses trials and storms because they are part of His works that ultimately put His powers on display.
So, for the verbal attacks and assault against press freedom and free speech by citizens, we have come to the conclusion that he cannot be called and addressed as a pastor by us. He is certainly not a preacher of love and tolerance but a preacher of wealth and war. If others are deceived because of his so called philanthropy, we are not.
Bribena needs to be educated on the import of the axiom “uneasiness lies the head that wears the crown”. As the manager of public/investors’ funds, Bribena should expect public scrutiny, constructive criticisms, pick the good points of such criticisms and move instead of inspiring youths to attack the media and other law abiding and concerned citizens.
The appellation ‘pastor’ in our own opinion is not suitable for him. Henceforth, as a demonstration of our new position, we will stop addressing him in all our publications as a pastor until such a time we are convinced that he has been re-baptized and has again answered the altar call, but until then we will be addressing him only as Miebi Bribena.