As the controvery surrounding the BBC Africa Eye’s exposè on sex-for-grades lingers, the lead reporter, Nkiru Mordi (Kiki Mordi) has deactivated her Twitter account, blocking access to previous posts.
This happened less than 24 hours after a BBC reporter, Ogechi Obidiebube, reportedly attempted suicide for not being “credited” despite having more input in the story.
Rather than mention Ms Obidiebube’s name in the closing credits of the documentary, a pseudonym “Kemi Alabi” was credited as the assistant producer, PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported.
In 2019, Ms Mordi, a freelance journalist, alongside members of the British media oufit’s team worked on a 54-minute documentary that highlighted how lecturers target the most vulnerable female students – those struggling with studies, seeking admission or in search of mentors – to have sex with them.
Through the use of secret cameras, undercover reporters of the BBC Africa Eye team captured conversations with four predatory lecturers from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and the University of Ghana, as they attempted to cajole and manipulate the undercover journalists into engaging in sexual acts with them.
Some of the lecturers were later suspended and sanctioned by their school authorities.
Apart from the impact the documentary had, it also put Ms Mordi in the spotlight as she became the face of the exposè on pages of newspapers and magazines.
The documentary was nominated in the current affairs category of the 48th International Emmy Awards for television programming as well as the Grierson Awards, also known at The British Documentary Awards.
Recently, Ms Mordi was named the 2020 winner of the Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling for her role in the story.
Ms Mordi’s recent win was criticised by a section of social media after a former BBC reporter, Ruona Meyer, in a series of tweets, insisted that another journalist, later identified as Ogechi Obidiebube, deserving of the credit of the documentary has been sidelined.
Ms Obidiebube, a graduate of UNILAG and a staff of BBC, had previously accused someone of hijacking the product of her creativity, a day after the Emmy nomination was announced in August but she did not mention names then.
In her reaction, Ms Mordi restated that she was the lead reporter on the project, and accused Ms Meyer of mischief.
The face-off between the two journalists degenerated to the point that Ms Meyer threatened a lawsuit against the BBC over her work history, which she alleged was misrepresented by Ms Mordi.
In a twist of events on Sunday afternoon, Ms Obidiebube allegedly swallowed a poisonous substance but was later rescued and had been receiving medical attention.
Beyond Kiki Mordi
According to sources, Ms Obidiebube actually pitched the story and had started preliminary research and reporting before Ms Mordi was brought in to work on the story as a freelancer.
The sources claimed that Ms Mordi was brought in over safety concerns for BBC staff who were working on the story.
Our sources said there were misgivings in the BBC Lagos newsroom about the way the reporters who worked on the story were credited. Ms Obidiebube and some of her colleagues were already grumbling over how Ms Mordi became the star of the story.
When reached for comment, both Ms Obidiebube and the BBC’s West African languages editor, Toyosi Ogunseye, declined to comment.
They both directed this reporter to speak with their employer, the BBC, which claimed “everyone was duly credited” except those with security concerns.
Amid the furore, allegations and counter-accusations, Ms Mordi deactivated her Twitter account on Monday morning.
She is yet to give reasons for her actions even when PREMIUM TIMES reached out to her via her spokesperson.
“I don’t have any comments on that,” Pelumi Agboola told PREMIUM TIMES, adding that Ms Mordi was unavailable to respond to any enquiries at that moment.