Social Media Gone Wrong or How Japhet Omojuwa Is Harnessing The Power Of Twitter To Extort Arik Air
Those of us on Twitter have all read with amusement the rantings of a certain Japhet Omojuwa about Arik ‘stealing’ his iPad.
Truth is his postings would be funny if they weren’t a serious case of one individual using lies, half-truths and misinformation to not only sully the corporate reputation of another, but to engage in blatant extortion in broad daylight.
To put the narrative in its proper perspective, by his own admission, Japhet Omojuwa was negligent in leaving his iPad on an Arik Aircraft:
“…the pilot announced that we were almost landing and all the routine of sitting upright, putting out electronic equipment meant that I had to stop using the ipad. I put the ipad in the seat pocket right in front of me.
… When we got to Allen Avenue, I realised I had left my Ipad in the aircraft.”
Who is responsible for his loss?
Even in a perfect world, with the statement above, there is no way Arik Air could be considered liable for his iPad, or how else does a person admit personal negligence in one breath and then hold another responsible for the consequences in the next?
Common sense dictates that if he did leave his iPad in the aircraft:
1) Any of the passengers who disembarked after him could have taken it from where he allegedly put it before proceeding to play ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’ with it.
2) Assuming there were no passengers disembarking after him or no other passenger picked it up, then it stands to reason that an Arik staffer could have found it, Arik has however publicly stated that no one who works for the airline came across the device.
Even if Arik is lying (and why would they), the onus is on Omojuwa to prove that they are and not on them to prove they aren’t.
Was there ever an iPad?
The story gets more interesting, Japhet Omojuwa was asked by Arik to provide a description of the lost iPad, his response, merely that it was an “iPad.”
He could not and did not provide any descriptive information, not even something as simple as whether it was 3G or Wi-Fi, whether it was a 16 Gb or 64 Gb model or whether it was Carrier branded e.g AT&T or plain. All he could say is it was an iPad 2. To which I say, really?
Most importantly, he could not provide ANY of the vital pieces of information that every iPad in the world can uniquely be identified with, the unique Serial Number belonging to that device, and if he claims it was a cellular model, the device’s unique IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) Number or the Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) number.
I am no iPad genius, but I know that even if he has lost the original packaging, simply logging into iTunes (and you do need iTunes to get any sort of initial functionality from an iPad) and clicking ‘Open Preferences’ , then clicking on the ‘Devices’ tab and moving the mouse over ‘backups’ will display the Serial Number, and again, if his is a cellular model, the IMEI/MEID, or maybe Arik also ‘stole’ his laptop, desktop and iTunes login information.
The fact that Omojuwa could not furnish any of the above pieces of information makes his whole claim of ever owning and iPad and then losing it very suspect.
But let’s get back to Arik. Within 45 days of his first public announcement about his ‘stolen’ iPad, Arik Air agreed to settle with Omojuwa.
As is standard with such settlements anywhere in the world, part of the agreement presented was that Omojuwa would agree not to comment any further on the issue, not seek any further damages and not disclose terms of the settlement.
The amount offered by Arik was obviously not enough and Omojuwa refused to accept it, instead choosing to harass Arik everyday via Twitter with numerous accusations that they had ‘stolen’ his iPad. He also filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) demanding N50 Million from the airline to cover the cost of:
a) Getting him a new Ipad
b) The monetary value he’s lost for each day he’s been without it since the 16th of June, 2012
c) The cost of my time and sum of money spent pursuing his case against Arik
Now, I don’t know about you, but to me when it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is usually a duck, only in this case the duck is a straight up case of a corporate shakedown AKA extortion engineered by Japhet Omojuwa.
For those who don’t know, here’s how shakedowns usually work:
Create / identify a problem (in this case claiming Arik stole his iPad (which it didn’t by his own admission)
Make a lot of noise about how serious the problem is (daily tweets about his ‘stolen’ iPad and Arik’s responsibility for its loss)
Announce that the only way to make the problem go away is to compensate those who brought the problem to light in some way- (N50 Million to Omojuwa in this case)
Once the above steps are followed, the problem magically goes away.
Unfortunately for Omojuwa and fortunately for Arik, while free speech remains just that, the laws in most western democracies, and even in Nigeria have put limitations on how that right to speak freely can be exercised. When the message is both damaging AND untrue, it’s liable – and becomes a legal liability for whomever is propagating it.
From Omojuwa’s personal admissions, it is obvious that his claim is BOTH untrue and his intentions are to damage the corporate reputation of Arik. Hence Arik has every right to sue him for libel, assuming the Nigerian Police does not step in first to charge him to court for blackmail and extortion, both of which are illegal in Nigeria last time I checked.