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The Nigerian activist group masquerading as journalists under the false banner of Sahara TV that accosted President Mugabe at the inauguration of the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari last Friday, has been exposed as an American-sponsored outfit used to target and abuse African Heads of State.

The so-called television station led by American trained Adeola Fayehun that tried to side-step President Mugabe with the intention of embarrassing him, also targeted South African President Jacob Zuma, it has been learnt.

Fayehun also attacked the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe last year.

The activists, whose genesis stems from a project launched in the US under the guise of community activism and agitation for democracy and tried out in countries like Colombia, in a bid to impress United States secretary of State John Kerry who attended the ceremony, took aantage of the poor protocol arrangement by Nigerian authorities to launch an assault on President Mugabe.

Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba yesterday said the gang did not deserve the tag “media outfit.”

“This is not a media outfit these are activists with cameras and it is actually a misnomer for anyone to refer to them as journalists because they are not that,” said Mr Charamba.

“In a way you could see that Nigeria is a guinea pig for the trial of that kind of confrontational activism, which is used to abuse African heads (of State). As it turns out, they had targeted President Mugabe as well as President Zuma.”

Mr Charamba said the organisation had, unbeknown to the Nigerian authorities, a pre-arranged motive to humiliate the two leaders and took aantage of protocol lapses at the venue of the inauguration.

“They took aantage of protocol restrictions that were imposed on delegations. Firstly, that the Heads of State had to be accompanied by only two officials outside of the security structures and in our case it was the Minister (Simbarashe Mumbengegwi ) as well as the Ambassador.

“That was the first loophole. The second loophole was a protocol requirement that all Heads travel on a bus, so essentially it meant that, that protocol expectation by the host country stripped Heads (of State) of their normal structures of protection and interaction including with players like the so-called Sahara TV,” said Mr Charamba.

He, however, said the trend that Nigerian activists allowed themselves to be used against President Mugabe and Zimbabwe was not a new phenomenon.

“Let it not be forgotten that in 2008 in the run-up to our elections, we had a publication called ‘This Day’, which is Nigerian starting a project in South Africa. They launched a similar paper in South Africa, which they termed ‘Southern African Version’ and from day one to its last day, it concentrated its editorial attacks on President Mugabe and Zanu-PF,” said Mr Charamba.

“Curiously, after the elections ‘This Day’ folded up and it was clear to us that this was a project which had been set up specifically against President Mugabe and Zanu-PF and the Zimbabwean electoral process.”

Mr Charamba said the so-called Sahara TV was no different from the mentioned projects, noting that the, “protocol arrangement around the Heads (of State) severely weakened us and in future, we will be a lot wiser.”

Zimbabweans on Monday roundly condemned the conduct of Sahara TV, with analysts expressing shock at the lax security accorded to President Mugabe by Nigerian authorities.

The minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Professor Jonathan Moyo, described the behaviour of the Sahara TV crew as uncouth labelling them “would be Nollywood actors and Boko Haram journalists.” Prof Moyo wondered how the crew had been allowed near the President to ask puerile questions.

Source : The Herald