Sunday, 21 December 2014

Omotola Jalade Ekeinde's ‘Cheating’ Report: The Untold Story




Last week,Vanguard newspaper published a story about Omotola saying she had been tempted countless times to cheat on her husband only for Omotola to take to twitter and deny granting the newspaper an interview. The columnist who published the interview has released a statement to set the records straight,insisting Omotola granted the interview.




Let me start first by saying that I am humbled by the popularity of this column, only six weeks after it made its debut here. I am told, and this has been verified, by random Google search, that this column has been culled and appropriated by practically every social media platform including the leading bloggers all over the world. One of such bloggers called me, to say she has been eagerly awaiting my column every Sunday, and updates on my blog: EkereteUdoh.com so she would be the first to post my stories. I must say that I am flattered.Last week, I published on this page some excerpts of an interview that Omotola Jalade Ekeinde granted my New York based newspaper, The Diaspora Star  in December 2009  and also, on my blog: EkereteUdoh.com . The interview, though done some years ago, was still relevant and current- (the kind of interviews that have no time-limit or currency.) The story has become a hit on social media and some other newspapers here. The popular blogger, BellaNaija culled the story, and a day after, Omotola through the same BellaNaija denied ever granting the interview to Vanguard. She, however,
did not deny that the said interview did take place and that some other excerpts of the same interview were published in The Diaspora Star, which she had read when it was first published.





Since her ambiguous denial, there has been a feeding frenzy on the social media, with some misguided fellows thinking that the interview did not take place and I am offended by this. The notion that I, Ekerete Udoh, one of the pioneers of this genre of journalism in Nigeria, a man  whom God has used  to promote and project  Nigerian pop culture and its practitioners  both here in Nigeria and in the Diaspora would publish an interview that was not properly conducted is to say the least, stupid ,puerile and utterly objectionable and I AM MAD AS HELL! 
Let me for the records, state that the said interview took place in Omotola’s HOLIDAY INN, hotel room in Yonkers, New York. Now, this is the fact of the story. 
I first met Omotola in 2008 or thereabout, when her then manager-Jim Bass, asked me to help promote her in North America. Omotola had a musical performance at Lehman College, the Bronx, as part of an event that was put together by former Beauty Queen and Nollywood actress, Regina Askia. Because I was her big fan and was proud of what she was doing, I agreed to help promote her in the media. 
We were formally introduced at that occasion by her then manager, Jim Bass. Since then, Omotola and I struck a very professional relationship and in 2009, during another of her visits to New York for the premier of an HIV/AIDS movie produced by Nollywood actress and producer, Chisom, I helped alongside her then manager, Jim Bass, organize a meet -and -greet session for her at the popular Nigerian watering hole-Tropical Grill, a restaurant and lounge that is located about ten minutes away from JFK Airport and has played host to many prominent Nigerians including former president Obasanjo. My friend, Ms. Bola Jawo, the owner of that restaurant agreed to give us the hall free, to host Omotola.  Ms. Jawo can authenticate this.



At the event, Omotola was so impressed by the huge turnout of fans and our friendship deepened. It was at that event that I asked her for an interview that was going to be different- where emphasis was going to be placed on her private life, her marriage and other angles that the media had not explored. She has told me exultantly: 
“Thank God, this is going to be different form all those generic questionnaires I have been used to, from Nigerian journalists”.
The next day, in the company of my two daughters, Ekaete Bukola and Uduak Temitope Udoh respectively, (my daughters , Ekaete who has already graduated from college and will be starting her law school in the spring 2015 and Uduak who is a freshman in college are huge Omotola’s fans and had told me they will not forgive me, if I didn’t take them along to see their idol), I drove to Yonkers- a distance of about 30 minutes from New York City, and the said interview took place right there in her room at the Holiday Inn. It was a meeting of two friends and I remember her even jokingly telling me not to take pictures because she just woke up and “looked a mess”. We all laughed and told her she was as beautiful as ever. 
Since then, I have done other stories on Omotola and she has regularly sought my help in helping tamp down negative situations that arose about her. When in 2011, a picture surfaced on the internet showing a man with his hands firmly grabbing her butt, and it sparked a media frenzy on the state of her marriage, with most accusing her of cheating on her husband, it was me and my news paper-The Diaporan Star that she ran to, to help debunk that story. 
At the event, Omnotola was so impressed by the huge turnout of fans and our friendship deepened. It was at that event that I asked her for an interview that was going to be different- where emphasis was going to be placed on her private life, her marriage and other angles that the media had not explored. She has told me exultantly: 
“Thank God, this is going to be different form all those generic questionnaires I have been used to, from Nigerian journalists”.
The next day, in the company of my two daughters, Ekaete Bukola and Uduak Temitope Udoh respectively, (my daughters , Ekaete who has already graduated from college and will be starting her law school in the spring 2015 and Uduak who is a freshman in college are huge Omotola’s fans and had told me they will not forgive me, if I didn’t take them along to see their idol), I drove to Yonkers- a distance of about 30 minutes from New York City, and the said interview took place right there in her room at the Holiday Inn. It was a meeting of two friends and I remember her even jokingly telling me not to take pictures because she just woke up and “looked a mess”. We all laughed and told her she was as beautiful as ever. 
Since then, I have done other stories on Omotola and she has regularly sought my help in helping tamp down negative situations that arose about her. When in 2011, a picture surfaced on the internet showing a man with his hands firmly grabbing her butt, and it sparked a media frenzy on the state of her marriage, with most accusing her of cheating on her husband, it was me and my news paper-The Diaporan Star that she ran to, to help debunk that story.


Not only did she grant me an interview, she also made me speak with her husband, who had stoutly defended her. That interview finally put a lid on that scandal and is all over the social media. I reproduce below, that interview and her confirmation of the initial 2009 interview that she denied was ever granted.  This is how The Diasporan Star edition of May 2011, reported the story: 
In our last edition, we did a cover story which was titled “Omotola in the eye of the storm! Husband angry over butt-grabbing photo at the Grammys…Why she apologized.”
The story centered around the rumors then spreading all over the world about the state of marriage of Omotola-by far, one of the most visible and popular stars in the Nollywood firmament following a butt-grabbing incident by her escort at the 2011 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles-an event that had Omotola, as the first Nollywood star to ever walk the Red Carpet at the star-studded event.
The picture had elicited wild rumors and innuendoes – with some speculating that her relationship with the guy, whose hands was on her backside, had more to it than meets the eye.
Some had openly stated she was playing games with her marital vows.
We had reported in the same article our inability to get Omotola to state her own side of the story, since she was shooting a movie in Ghana. We had, however relied on close sources to piece together our facts which provided the background to our story. 
A few days after the story hit the newsstands, I received a call from Omotola, who expressed the desire to finally speak on the issue. “I am now going to use this platform to put this issue to rest once and for all.”
Omotola went on to add that “people have insinuated all kinds of things and read numerous meaning to what was nothing but an innocuous picture taken of me and a member of my new management team at the Grammys. The picture was an innocent one, signifying nothing. 
I have been married to my husband for 15 years now, and I say this loud and clear that I have never cheated on him, and would never do so ever! Remember I said in an interview I granted you in 2009, that yes, I have been tempted numerous times to violate my marital vows, but I have always resisted the temptation to do anything that would bring dishonor to my marriage and my children. If I told you – as a popular actress that we have not been tempted, I would be lying to you. But should one sacrifice all what one has built, nurtured and worked hard to establish just because you want to indulge in some ill-motivated affair? No. I don’t believe in that. I count myself blessed to have married a perfect gentleman, a man who has supported me throughout my years in the industry, and is still there, as a rock of Gibraltar. My husband is a rare find, and no amount of temptation will ever make me cheat on him. 
So the notion or the rumor that my haters and nay sayers have spread to the effect that the guy at the Grammys was my boyfriend, is ludicrous to say the least. If I wanted to cheat on my husband, would I do that in the open? Would I advertise my boyfriend for everyone to see and at such a public function? Just analyze that logically – would that be a commonsensical thing to do? 
This rumor is really a sick one and I’m offended. My husband is my soul-mate and I will never soil or put that trust in jeopardy – no matter what and the extent of the temptation. It is not worth it.” (At this point, she handed the phone to her husband).
My wife is no flirt – Husband
It was obvious from the manner Mr. Ekeinde sounded, that he was pained and frustrated by all the unfounded rumors about his wife’s glorious outing at the Grammys. 
My brother, I am very proud of my wife’s accomplishments and I join other well wishers and millions of her fans to toast her success. I’m a little surprised that instead of Nigerians celebrating her appearance at the Grammys and her, being the first Nollywood star to walk the red carpet; they are busy spreading tales and rumors that do not exist. 
Truth be told, I was not angry with my wife when I saw the picture. Why should I be? I know who I married, how self-respecting she is and also the nature of her industry. She is an actress for God’s sake, and it is not out of place for actresses to appear in scenes that may look a little out of place for a married person. 
The key thing is that my wife respects her marital status, and in our 15 year marriage, she has been the best woman any man could aspire to have. In spite of her stardom, at home, she is my wife. She cooks for me, takes care of the home and above all, is a great mother to our lovely children. 
I sincerely would implore her fans not to buy into rumors and speculations about her marital life, because I, the husband the one that is lucky to have her as my wife is so proud of her and I continue to thank God for bringing her into my life. I could never have asked for a better wife than her” Mr. Ekeinde a commercial airline pilot had concluded.


Now, let me address the point she made that she did not grant an interview to Vanguard. 
About six weeks ago, I became a columnist in this newspaper, and since one of the planks of this column rests on popular culture, I have been publishing AUTHENTIC AND CREDIBLE interviews that I have had with leading personalities over the years. There is no ethical kerfuffle involved with this practice. 
A writer or journalist who did an interview with a given subject can use same interview in any other credible media platform of his choosing, as long as the said INTERVIEW WAS PROPERLY CONDUCTED AND THE STORY IS REPORTED ACCURATELY. 
That was what I did, with the Omotola story. She granted me an interview, and I am now a columnist with Vanguard newspaper, a credible and easily one of the leading mainstream newspapers in Nigeria, and I decided to use the story, with my byline boldly displayed, which should suffice. Her story is not the first I had done along this line, which I may add, is a universally adopted practice by journalists all over the world. Journalists are free to syndicate their stories in whatever medium or platform they deem fit.   
For three weeks, I ran an interview I did with Her Excellency, Mrs.  Bianca Ojukwu, the beautiful and erudite Nigerian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain last year in her home, in Enugu. When I did the interview, I was not yet a columnist with Sunday Vanguard, but I exercised my editorial judgment and used it to flag off this column.
When the interview ran in Sunday Vanguard, Her Excellency, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu had called me while I was on a quick trip to South Beach, Miami, Florida about three weeks ago, to commend me on the  interview and even told me she couldn’t get a copy of Sunday Vangaurd in the entire Eastern states because the paper had sold out. 
She called me from New York where she had gone for a socio-cultural event and I told her that I was now doing a column in Sunday Vanguard and she wished, me well. Mrs. Ojukwu did not deny the interview on the account that the said interview was not meant to  have been published in this paper, she knew that the interview had the full complement of my integrity and professional bonafides, and was happy for me.   
In the weeks to come, I will use other exclusive details of interviews I did with other popular figures in our politics and pop culture worlds on these pages. 
Omotola is my friend and even at this very strange moment of our friendship, I will still count her as a good friend. She has been a great ambassador of our arts and a role model for millions of women and I will not excoriate or eviscerate her, even though I am so massively tempted to get REAL ANGRY and to use the American street slang “wild-out” but I will hold my fire for NOW. 
I count myself as one of the standard bearers of this genre of journalism and thus, acutely aware of ethical issues and concerns. So I take ethics and professional conduct very seriously. I have preached this to all the reporters and journalists who have passed through my tutelage and I will continue to hold aloft the ideals, values , ethos and ethics of our profession. 
Let me also add here that not only do I hold a bachelors degree in journalism, I also hold bachelors and masters degrees in political science, where I was the Best Overall Graduating student of my class of 2006, International Relations at the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. I have an acute sense of right and wrong and have mentored hundreds of journalists who today, are publishers, editors, top op-ed writers  commissioners of information, special advisers and corporate affairs heads of several agencies. 
I will continue to do this, as long as the good Lord gives me the strength to do so!














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