The deal was nearly torpedoed the candidacy of Ousmane Sonko to the presidential election of February 2019 in which the leader of Pastef came out 3rd with 15% of the vote. While the deputy was preparing to launch his campaign with a bang, her name is cited in an alleged deal with the oil company british Tullow Oil, which would have paid $ 195,000 (113 million cfa francs) to Ousmane Sonko.
The revelation was made in an article attributed to british journalist, Michelle Madsen and published on “an obscure news website of Ghana, Modern Ghana”, January 9, 2019, and exhibited like a trophy of war by the camp of the outgoing president, Macky Sall. But, this was a big scandal will have lasted the time of a rose (48 hours) and turned out to be a big Fake News, is finely stitched in thread of lies. Since both the journalist Michelle Madsen (he was given the name Damsen in the article) that the company Tullow Oil have not lost time to sweep of a reverse of hand these false allegations.
Back on the facts
In an article in a revelation published (in English and translated by Release Online) on Sunday, 14 June 2020 on BBC, Michelle Madsen, untangles thread by thread the spider’s web. “I went out to a dance class in north London on a sunny day last January to find a series of missed calls to numbers in africa. I didn’t know what it was – so I checked my inboxes on Facebook and Twitter – there were hundreds of messages asking me the same thing : was I, “Michelle Damsen”, the author of a mysterious novel at the centre of a media storm in Senegal ?
“A corruption scandal that has shaken my country and your name was mentioned”. “We are very concerned because we saw an article supposed to be written by you”. “I’m a journalist from senegal and I really need to talk to you!”, Tells the journalist in his story.
“They all wanted to know if I had written an article entitled : “The challenges of the exploitation of natural resources in Africa”, which appeared on an obscure news site in ghana, Modern Ghana, January 9, 2019. The article accused the opposition candidate Ousmane Sonko for having accepted a bribe from an oil company european and was written by “Michelle Damsen”.
It was a few weeks of the presidential election in senegal and Mr. Sonko was one of the main opponents of President Macky Sall. (…) However, I knew that I had not written the article from Modern Ghana and I said the same thing to all the journalists who have contacted me. But I was shaken by some of the details in the reports published in Senegal, and by the rapidity with which the story was related to me. (…) Tullow Oil and Mr. Sonko has denied all the allegations and these documents are quickly proven to be fakes (…)”, she says.
“The author of the article had even offered to pay money for…”
She continues : “The media storm lasted less than 48 hours. I wanted to know who was “Michelle Damsen” and how the false article had spread like wildfire across Senegal. I contacted the head of “Modern Ghana”, Bright Owusu, who said that the article appeared on the opinion page of the Web site. Owusu said that the author of the article, a man with an african accent, had even offered to pay the money for its publication”.
The revelations from the investigations are falling out of the clouds. “With the metadata of the emails sent by the author to Owusu, and telephone number, I worked with a programmer and investigator digital in Reckon Digital, to identify it. The number has been traced to the United States, and was registered in the name of “Baba Aïdara”. I was shocked – Baba Aïdara is a journalist with senegalese living in the United States and an opponent of the senegalese government. It is also found that it is one of my best contacts, she says.
Baba Aïdara talks about “hacking his account”
Contacted by Michelle Madsen, Baba Aïdara denied in block and suspected the State of Senegal to have “hacked” his account. “I talked to Aïdara, who denied that the story comes from him. He said that he thought he was hacked and he suspected the government of senegal. The journalists to whom I have spoken in Senegal reported that there had been a “war of false news” in view of the elections of 2019, with disinformation coming from all sides,” says Madsen.
But, she adds, “many have said that they suspect that the story comes from the campaign team of President Sall, which included a working group on communications conducted by a number of experts in digital communications who had previously worked on the presidential campaigns”.
Motus and mouth stitched on the side of the Apr
The attempts of the reporter to get in touch with the staff of the president Sall, have been without success. Also unveils Michelle Madsen : “I tried to speak to the campaign team of Mr. Sall and the spokesman of his party, the RPA, but nobody wanted to give me an interview or answer my questions. I have, however, managed to get an interview with Mr Sonko, who said that he had never received money from Tullow Oil and the government was “on a mission to discredit him effectively””.
Michelle “Damsen”, a ghost ?
After the programmer requested by the reporter, “it is possible that the phone Aïdara could be hacked”. As to the famous Michelle Damsen (the one passed-in to the real Michelle Madsen), it is a ghost. “A year later, I still don’t know who is “Michelle Damsen”, maybe I would never know. It should be borne in mind that the next time, “Michelle Damsen” will take the keyboard, the story and its impact could have a much broader scope”, she hopes.