I made a startling discovery last week about a certain Phrank Shaibu ( a former Special Adviser on Public Communication and Strategy to former Kogi State governor Ibrahim Idris and who, according to his Facebook profile, is “currently an Adviser to the FCT Minister” and a “Consultant to Delta Governor on Public Communication and Strategy”) who has been willfully and barefacedly plagiarizing my grammar column for months on end on Facebook, ChannelsTV, and Radio Kogi.
Phrank Shaibu created a closed, invitation-only, 1,000-plus-member Facebook group called “Mind Your Grammar” where he impresses impressionable and unsuspecting young people by posting my grammar column week in week out and passing it off as his. During my brief membership of the group (I will tell you how that happened shortly), I discovered that he copied entire passages—sometimes whole articles— word for word from my grammar column and pasted on the front page of the group.
He got lavish praises from members of the group, some of whom addressed him as a “professor of English.” I have been reliably told that his periodic “Mind Your Grammar” programs on ChannelsTV and on Radio Kogi also habitually plagiarize my column.
So how did I discover this brazenly criminal rape of my intellectual property by a nitwitted charlatan who, going by his written and oral communication skills, has no capacity to even string together a sentence in English that isn’t a rib-tickling travesty of the language? (Phrank reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s epigram about how “everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching.”)
Well, it started like this: Several months ago, someone “inboxed” me a grammar question on Facebook. I gave him a quick answer and promised to expand on it in a couple of days. But he came back the following day seeking more clarification. I obliged him.
Then something bizarre happened. My questioner started to argue with me using the exact words of an article I’d written years back. Of course, I recognized my style and diction in “his” argument. So I wrote: “Are you for real? You’re plagiarizing my previous article to argue with me? I thought you were a serious person. I regret ever responding to your queries.”
It turned out, however, that he was a member of Phrank Shuaibu’s fraudulent “Mind Your Grammar” Facebook group. He’d asked Phrank the same question, and Phrank lived up to his name and “pranked” him by lifting passages from my previous article to answer his question and to dispute the accuracy of the response I’d given him.
The questioner gave me the link to the Facebook group from where he excerpted the response. I followed the link and sent a request to be a member of the group. This was several months ago. My request was never granted. Of course, no thief who has illegally seized a house would knowingly and willingly grant entry to the legitimate owner of the house; that could signal the end of his criminal exploits.
However, by a quirk of circumstance, on September 13, I got an email notification from Facebook that said “Abdul Mahmud approved your request to join the group MIND YOUR GRAMMAR.” It turned out that Phrank Shaibu appointed a Comrade Abdul Mahmud as an administrator of his duplicitous group without his consent. Comrade Mahmud is a lawyer, human rights activist, former president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), and former University of Jos student whom Phrank Shuaib knew because he is also an alumnus of the University of Jos.
Comrade Mahmud and I have never met physically, but we have many mutual friends and have interacted on Facebook a number of times. He said when he saw my request pending on the group’s page, he decided to approve it.
Once I became a member of the group, I voraciously read the postings on the group’s page and found that EVERY SINGLE contribution that Phrank Shaibu made to the group was plagiarized from my grammar column. His responses to questions from group members were lifted from my articles, sometimes even when the responses were irrelevant to the questions asked. And he was praised to high heavens by his admirers, most of whom were young girls.
Since it was Mahmud who approved my membership to the group, I first sent him a message asking if he was aware of the serial theft of my intellectual property by a despicably nescient mountebank who goes by the name Phrank Shaibu. He assured me that he had no association with the group other than that he had just been made an administrator of the group without his consent. So I sent a message to Phrank Shaibu warning him to cease and desist from his intellectual theft of my grammar column or risk being sued. He ignored my message.
Then I posted on the front page of the group that Phrank Shaibu is a nakedly transparent fraudster whose entire contributions to the group were bald-faced thefts from my Sunday Trust grammar column. There was a whiff of incredulity in a few of the comments that followed my post. “Are you real?” one young girl commented. “Seriously?” another one wrote.
The next thing Phrank did was to kick me out of the group. He also blocked me on Facebook, although we were never Facebook friends in the first place. I had no earthly clue that a vile, contemptible, Janus-faced, disreputably scheming character by the quirky name of Phrank Shaibu existed until September 13.
I brought this issue to the attention of my over 4,000 friends on Facebook and got over a hundred comments and over 70 “likes.” Similarly, Comrade Mahmud, whom Phrank Shuaibu unfriended and blocked on Facebook because he called his attention to my complaints, posted this on his wall:
“If you’re my Facebook friend and PHRANK SHAIBU is our mutual friend, please rethink the friendship. PHRANK SHAIBU is a serial plagiarist, a master crook. Phrank Shaibu, as I gathered a few hours ago, is an Igala chap from Kogi State and a former Media Campaigner for the failed Kogi State governorship aspirant, [Jibrin Isah] Echocho.
“Phrank Shaibu is accused of lifting the works of Professor Farooq Kperogi and posting same inside a closed group, ‘Mind Your Grammar’, that he (Shaibu) made me its administrator of without my knowledge and permission. Phrank Shaibu has refused to respond to the charges and has now gone ahead to unfriend me, blocked the limited access I had to the Facebook group when Professor Farooq found his way in…. There is a very serious issue of intellectual theft here… on Facebook, our place of communal meetings. Stop Phrank Shaibu in his tracks. Please share!!!!!!”
My status update and Mahmud’s wall post must have conspired to scare the pants off the crook because he shut down the “Mind Your Grammar” group shortly after. But if he shut it down because he wanted to destroy my evidence, he miscalculated. I took snap shots of the plagiarized materials before coming out in the open. I intend to use this evidence to sue him.
Phrank called me a week ago and admitted to his plagiarism, apologized profusely (I recorded all his phone conversations with me, which I will tender in court), promised to pay me compensatory damages, and to issue a public apology for his infractions. But he shamelessly reneged on all his promises. Instead, he kept playing childish pranks on me. The man, certainly, is not contrite.
But the bigger worry in all of this is that this wretched, dishonest, compulsively mendacious character was a media adviser to a state governor, and is currently the media adviser to a serving minister and a serving governor! I learned from his Facebook pictures that he also once won an award as “Media Spokesman of the Year 2009” and that, in fact, the Kogi State government took out newspaper pages to advertise messages of “congratulations to a worthy son”!
What kind of society puts people like that in positions of responsibility? Worse, what kind of society celebrates slimy little liars like that?
I’ve consulted with my lawyers and will sue the butt off this audaciously atrocious intellectual thief. I will also sue Channels TV and Radio Kogi for providing him the platforms to plagiarize my intellectual property. This plague of intentional plagiarism in Nigeria has to stop!