Following Linda Ikeji‘s revelation of a certain John Abayomi who she reported was the owner of the popular and controversial Instagram page InstaBlog9ja, the employers of the man have swung into action almost immediately, vowing to get to the bottom of it and possibly fire him if indeed he’s the brain behind it.
In the LIB report, it was alleged that Abayomi who is currently the online editor of Punch Newspapers and a former editor of Vanguard News had been running the platform since 2015, combining it with his daily duty at the 42-year-old media house.
Instablog9ja has grown to be one of the most followed handles in the Nigerian media space with 1.7 million followers. Using the Linda Ikeji model for publishing gossip and bizarre news, it usurped many a gossip site. Ironically, it was on IBJ9 that the identity of Linda Ikeji’s “baby daddy”, Sholaye Jeremi was first revealed. Before then she had hidden his identity, ostensibly because he’s a married man. While it is not clear if this was a case of her paying him back, what is known his that her story set in motion a chain of events that held the entire Punch Newspapers in a daze today.
Inside sources who spoke to NET on the condition of anonymity told us that no sooner than the news broke did several board members of Punch gather at the premises of the newspaper on Lagos/Ibadan Expressway for an emergency meeting.
”Abayomi was summoned into a high-level meeting editorial meeting, along with his bosses and the management and everyone is confused about the whole situation” Our sources told us.
Our source further revealed that the main bone of contention was the issue of “moonlight”, the act of having a second job while in full-time employment. We gather that the rule is very strict at Punch Newspapers and the Abayomi’s case is of extreme importance because while the newspaper has a paltry 225,000 followers on Instagram, Instablog on its part has nearly eight times as much- while incurring no overhead costs and on company time.
Our source went on: “Everyone is confused and asking questions. Mr Abayomi is a dedicated man who is always in the office. I wonder where he would get the spare time to handle a blog like Instablog9ja, so I think it is untrue until investigations are complete.”
At the emergency meeting, Abayomi himself was said to have denied the allegation strenuously. He maintained that the report was untrue and a fabrication and vowed to sue Linda Ikeji in the coming days for libel, false accusation and defamation of character.
Calls made by NET to Mr Abayomi at the time of this report neither were text messages sent to his phone replied.
The identity of the owner and handlers of Instablog has been a mystery to many social media users in Nigeria. There is zero trace of who started it in 2015 or if a team made up of different individuals run it. At various times, a number of names have been touted as owners, including “Lillian” and Hauwa Mohammed of Jaruma Empire. Even when the platform started taking on adverts, the official name on their bank accounts is “Instablog9ja”.
While the management and board of Punch Newspapers took Abayomi at his words today, they have promised to continue investigations into the matter; even as the embattled individual on his part is determined to clear his name.