Journalist Sheds More Light On Omotola’s ‘Cheating’ Story

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Last week, a Vanguard columnist wrote
on his page about how Omotola said she sometimes gets tempted to cheat on her
husband, a story she later denied on twitter, saying she never granted Vanguard
the interview. The same reporter who made published the story last week, now has
a new angle to it, insisting Omotola granted the interview and there was indeed
no need for denial. Continue below…

Let me start first by saying that
I am humbled by the popularity of this column, only six weeks after it made its
debut. 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 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, excerpts of an interview that Omotola Jalade Ekeinde granted my New
York-based newspaper, The Diasporan Star, in December 2009, and also on my
blog. The interview, though done some years ago, was still relevant. (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 Sunday 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 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
who God has used to promote and project Nigerian pop culture and its
practitioners both 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. Since 2008, I have been the publisher of The Diasporan Star
newspaper, easily and without sounding immodest, the most popular newspaper
that projects and promotes Nigerian, nay African, pop culture, politics and our
way of life in the United States. The newspaper, to the glory of God, has grown
in stature and reviewed by such newspapers as The New York Daily News, Post,
among others.
In 2010, when the Queen of Daytime
Television, Oprah Winfrey, did a segment on her show on Nollywood and
Bollywood, and wanted background information on Nollywood and its stars, it was
my newspaper – The Diasporan Star – that she turned to. Her production outfit,
HARPO, contacted us, and we provided the background information she used in the
segment where Genevieve Nnaji was called ‘The Julia Roberts of Africa.’
Because of the impact my newspaper
has made in the United States, I was honored by the New York State Senate in
2012 for ‘Outstanding Community Service’, an event where CNN’s Anderson Cooper
was also honoured. I have been invited to address students on African pop
culture and politics at many institutions in the United States among them the
New School of Social Research in New York City, a top school that has as its
president, the former Nebraska senator and former Democratic Party presidential
aspirant, Bob Kerry.
My newspaper has been media
partners to a number of campaigns in the U.S, including the Obama/Biden
Campaign Organisation, where we canvassed support for the African-Diaspora
community for the ticket. Ours, therefore, has been a credible medium, and I
hold, very dearly, my over 20 years of storied journalism career.
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. Since then, Omotola and I struck a very professional
relationship.
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, Bass, to
organise a meet-and-greet session for her at the popular Nigerian watering hole
– Tropical Grill, a restaurant and lounge – 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.  Jawo can authenticate this.
Private life
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 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
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 to 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, 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 brewing mess and it is all over the social media. I reproduce
below, that interview and her confirmation of the initial 2009 interview that
she purportedly denied was ever granted. 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”, she said.
Omotola went on to add: “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, pilot, sounded, that he was pained and frustrated by all the unfounded
rumours 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 rumours that do
not exist”’, he said.
“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 rumours and speculations about her marital life, because
I, the husband, the one that is lucky to have her as my wife, am 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.”
Now, let me address the point she
made that she did not grant an interview to Sunday 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
Sunday Vanguard, a very 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.

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