Rape Threat: Editor loses job for criticizing El-Rufai’s wife

A Nigerian editor has lost his job after criticizing Mrs. Hadiza Isma El-Rufai, wife of Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. However, the unceremonious exit of Otosirieze Obi-Young as the deputy editor of Brittle Paper, a digital literary journal, is now generating controversies.

Obi-Young said in a statement on Wednesday that he was forced to leave Brittle Paper because of its “censorship” and lack of “freedom”.

The controversies began after Obi-Young wrote an article that was critical of Hadiza Isma El-Rufai, who is also a novelist.

Mrs. El-Rufai’s son Bello had threatened sexual violence against the mother of a Twitter user @thanos_zer’s who disagreed with him on Sunday.

Moments later, @thanos_zer posted a screenshot of a direct message he said El-Rufai sent to him in which he (El-Rufai) threatened sexual violence (rape of his traducer’s mother) and ethnic slur.

Although she later denounced her son’s tweets, Mrs. El-Rufai’s initial failure to condemn her son’s tirade left many disappointed, including Obi-Young.

“Don’t @ me. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind,” she wrote on Twitter on April 12. “All is fair in love and war. My belief: Respect everyone, but take no shit from anyone. I didn’t see any threats of rape. I would never condone that.”

Obi-Young’s criticism of Mrs. El-Rufai initial failure to repudiate her son’s tweets was deemed below the editorial standard of Brittle Paper’s founder Ainehi Edoro.

Obi-Young’s article titled “Novelist, Feminist & Kaduna First Lady, Hadiza El-Rufai, says all is fair in love and war after son’s gang-rape threat draws backlash” has been pulled from BP’s website.

“The Founder called me and expressed concerns about my criticism of a Nigerian newspaper in it and the informal and strongly-worded tone addressing said novelist,” Obi-Young said in a statement posted to his personal website.

“I edited the post, removing the relevant sections. The Founder called back a few minutes later and said she wanted me to take down the report. That was unacceptable to me. I saw no reason why my post-publication edits, which removed my opinion and restricted it to reportage, were not enough.”

But Obi-Young insisted he was “factual”. Without being informed, he was logged out of Brittle Paper, its social media accounts, and its WhatsApp group – the primary work communication space.

Brittle Paper’s defense

Edoro said on Wednesday evening that Brittle Paper did not do anything wrong. She said in a statement that the former deputy editor, whom she referred to as “a trusted friend,” defied editorial guidelines.

Edoro condemned Mrs. El-Rufai’s comments about her son’s “odious” tweets as “reprehensible”. But she insisted that her former deputy editor’s article was “impassioned, deeply personal piece reporting”.

“I found the title inflammatory and unnecessarily incendiary,” Edoro said. She said she was “fine” with the article until she got to the end, where she found a couple of paragraphs she found offensive and libelous.

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