Editorial Team

Emmanuel Udom-Managing Editor, Stephen Dijo Philemon-Deputy Editor, Janet Udom-Senior Correspondent, Precious Udom-Senior Correspondent, Williams Ita-Bureau Chief(Akwa Ibom/Cross River), Fabian Idoko-Senior Correspondent

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    Monday, 7 October 2013

    The world of a female crime reporter-Juliana Francis

     If there is one lady that is blunt, down-to-earth, fearless and daring, that person is JULIANA FRANCIS. She is the Assistant Editor, crime desk with Newswatch newspaper, owned by Dr Jimoh Ibrahim, the multi-billionaire youngman you all know.
    Francis reports crime. She is more or less an under-cover crime reporter in a beat where most male journalists in Nigeria regard as no-go area.
    Apart from this, this beautiful and delectable lady is a mother, blogger, who is also passionate about issues relating to relationships, marriage, sex and all those stuffs.
    Last week, www.vicnuel.blogspot.com , conducted  an online interview with her, where she spoke on her job, love life, children and growing up years.
    What has been your experience covering crime as a lady for years?
    Well, I really don’t know what you mean by my ‘experience covering crime as a lady.’ Just from that singular question, you make it sound like crime beat is solely for men. You’re wrong if that’s your perception.
    Crime beat is not restricted to men alone. And females like us who find ourselves on that beat are holding our forth.
    We’re strong and getting stronger each day. And even with our ever busy matrimonial homes, husbands and children, not many men on crime beat can thump their chests and say they can beat us in terms of getting, breaking stories or exclusives.
    Covering crime beat is a lesson itself. It makes you ponder and wonder at the fragilities’ of human life and existence. It’s a beat that makes you try to understand what pushes a man/woman to certain levels in life to commit certain crimes.
    It makes us want to be better parents to our kids, makes us want to protect your kids from the dangers out there. And even when we know we can’t always be there for our kids, we place them under the protection of the unseen Almighty God.
    It’s a challenging beat that sometimes takes a bit of your soul and makes you hug your beloved ones when you get home.
    As a woman, each encounter, experience leaves a lesson in the gallery of our lives.
    What is your take on the journalism profession generally in Nigeria?
    Journalism in Nigeria sucks! What do you expect with politicians taking over the industry? Many people join the noble profession of journalism because they dreamt of becoming ‘a mouth piece of the’ underdogs, so to say. But rather, they become the month piece of the politicians, their pay-masters, while the cries, needs of the underdogs, downtrodden are drown out.
    You’re probably saying to yourself, ‘if she hates the system that much, why is she still there’? The answer is simply really; MY KIDS! The bills have to be paid. Taking care of kids means money.
    Journalism is my life. I just don’t know how not to be a journalist. What else can I do? And just for the record, I’m damn good at it too! That’s me being modest. One of the best hands in the industry, Mr. Dipo Kehinde mentored me. I love the profession, but detest the political intrigues that have become the game.
    Media owners who genuinely have passion of true journalism in their hearts, most times, can’t pay salaries of their reporters. In the final equation, it’s salary that matters.
    This is why many journalists resort to blackmailing. Personally, I don’t think there’s any excuse for blackmail. I’m shocked to see that journalists who had been arrested once or twice or even detained or imprisoned due to unethical journalistic behaviours, find themselves back in the field.
    You see media houses employing them again, even with their criminals’ records. It makes you wonder what sort of society we are living in.
    If a guy goes to prison for blackmail and comes out, only to land a plump job, in the same industry for crying out loud, how then will it deter others from embarking on such criminal practices?
    I know! I know! Everyone deserves a second chance, but everyone also knows better than to blackmail!
    How has your job as a crime editor affected your family?
    Phewww! It has affected them a lot! I leave home in the morning and return at night. I hardly see my kids and it makes me feel so guilty. It makes me feel like I’m missing out a lot out of their lives. Children formative years are the time parents need to be nearby.
    I’m with them when they’re preparing for school, but by the time I get home, they’re asleep. Sometimes my son calls me at the office, telling me to come home pronto! Asking me what I was still doing in the office at late hour. He’s just six. He doesn’t understand. I always invariably promise him that I’d return early. Most times, I fail. When he eventually sees me, he would say; “mummy, so you’re lying to your son? You said you’ll come home now! Now! But you didn’t.!”
    Life is tough and we can’t always get what we want. I mean, someone have to pay the bills.
    Tells us about your growing up years?
    What do you want to know? Where do I start?
    Growing up was tough. I wore torn uniforms to secondary school. I wrote class notes for lazy class mates for money in order to buy books for myself. I only got to touch and read literature materials because my class mates, who were too lazy to read, wanted me to read the literature texts and explain the story line to them. They buy the books...I read the books.
    I almost was not allowed to write SSCE because my exam fee was short of N5.
    Father was a bricklayer and mother always too sick to be anything. We lived in a house were we become night vigilantes and praying mantis when it was raining seasons. The roof leaks and the floor gushes out water like faulty taps. Our buckets and pans to scoop water were always held like our weapons against invading enemies.
    We lived in a room apartment. And when the floor is flooded, we squeezed into our broken chairs like sardine, praying for dawn to come, so that we could start bailing out the waters.
    I attended the University of Ilorin, but that I had the opportunity to go to a university was itself nothing sheer of a miracle. I printed envelops, distributed to people to give help me with money. Even strangers!
    That was how the money came for university...in trickles.
    I went to bus stops at Ilorin to beg for money to feed...I wore bathroom slippers to campus...I can go with the story, but I’m bored (yawn)...ask me something else.
    have you ever been harassed, intimidated or detain by the police while carrying out your official duties or over stories?
    Every journalist, especially a crime reporter had at one time or the other being harassed in different ways.
    The incidents are too many. I had been harassed sexually...some dirty policemen had pinched my buttocks. Slimes! One almost raped me in his office. One moment we were discussing a story...I was sitting on a chair and the next thing I knew, this guy had jumped like Jackie Chain on my body...
    But you know, most men think with their balls. I couldn’t push him off. When their hormones and adrenalin start working, they become strangely strong, even the ones with flabby bodies.
    So I told him to go and lock his office door to stop anyone from walking in unannounced. He stupidly got up and that was the end of the story. I got up and was furious with him. When I’m standing, try and get me to get down, let me see how that would pan out. You need to see a smallish lady when she’s spitting fire.
    I was pissed. This was a guy who had never even wooed or attempted to show that he was interested in me as a woman. Haba!
    Maybe I was old school, but before you start talking about ‘chopping a babe,’ there should be watering of ground first.
    Little signs to show that the guy is giving her the green light. Green light signifies that the guy likes her. Any astute lady will understand and read that sign. If she’s interested, she also knows how to send her own sign across.
    I begged my boss for another beat, but he told me that as long as I’m a lady, that I would always be sexually harassed. I didn’t and still don’t think that is fair on female journalists. We have a lot to contend with. God help us!
    A DSP had attempted to lock me up at Kam Salem, Obalende for doing my job. She was alleged to have used an electrical boiling ring on her maid. I wanted to get her side of the story. She flared up. Called me names, said she would make sure I lose my job. She went to call her boys to detain me, but one of her superiors heard her plans and told her to thank me for even bothering to come to her. She also called my office; the story died a natural death.
    There was a time OPC was after me...my boss then, Dipo Kehinde, saw me through most of those stormy periods...
    Will you encourage any of your children to take to journalism?
    What are your likes and dislikes?
    I hate liars! Blackmailers. Fraudsters! I like transparent, truthful people. I also detest hypocrites. People who preach one thing and practice another. People who calls Jesus! Jesus! But readily cheat their colleagues of their money. I always tell people that we don’t need the bible and Quran to tell us what is bad or good; YOUR CONSCIENCE WILL DO THAT!
    What attracted you to your husband?
    I sincerely believed him to be honest. A one-woman kind of guy..
    Who is Juliana Francis?
    Juliana Ebere Francis is a journalist, who is interested in security related issues, justice, sex and relationships. She is also a mother who loves her children to nuts. A sister who is crazy about her siblings. A daughter who wants to come back to her parents if there’s another life.
    She’s emotional, easily falls in love and does not believe that sex should be handled with levity. She believes that as parents, showing our kids that we love them is their RIGHT, not a PRIVILEGE.
    She believes that whatever one is going through in life is happening because the Almighty God designs it that way. Thus she believes that what human beings need to do, is to beg God to give us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change.

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