A major shake-up is sweeping through PUNCH, one of Nigeria’s largest circulating dailies, PREMIUM TIMES can report this morning.
The three title editors have been removed from their posts while 11 key members of staff in the advert unit of the paper have been fired, multiple sources in the company said.
Joseph Adeyeye, who was until Wednesday the editor of the daily edition of the paper, was promoted Controller, publications, while Chiawo Nwankwo, the Sunday editor was redeployed to the editorial board.
The fate of the Saturday editor, Obafemi Obadare, is unclear this morning. But he has also been removed from his post and redeployed to the editorial board.
A source suggested he might eventually be asked to leave the paper but that could not be independently confirmed Saturday morning as the company’s Managing Director, Ademola Osinubi, could not be reached on his mobile telephone.
While Mr. Adeyeye’s redeployment is clearly a promotion, it is unclear why Mr. Nwankwo was removed. He was transferred from the paper’s Abuja Bureau, where he was head, in May 2012 and spent barely seven months on the job.
Our source explained that management had repeatedly complained that SUNDAY PUNCH was performing poorly in copy sales and that the editor had not been able to breath life into it to make it more attractive to readers. But insiders say Mr. Nwankwo significantly improved on the quality of stories carried by the paper, and that circulation was not his responsibility.
Our sources said the 11 advert staffs, including Fatima Obagaye, senior manager, advertisement, were allegedly fired over allegations that they diverted over N200million cash that should have accrued to the paper from ad sales. They are also accused of illegally earning commission from advertisers.
Contacted Saturday, Mrs Obagaye claimed she had not been sacked and denied knowledge of any fraud within the company.
Mr. Adeyeye, who will supervise the new title editors and oversee the paper’s ambitious plan to print simultaneously in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja, has now been replaced by Business Editor Martin Ayankola.
Mr. Ayankola, a 1989 graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, joined the paper in 2009 and was a surprise pick for the job. Some aggrieved senior editors, who described themselves as Mr. Ayankola’s superior, described his appointment as arbitrary but did not challenge his capacity to deliver.
For the SATURDAY PUNCH, the new editor is Emeka Madunagu, a reporter who was until his appointment the paper’s online editor. He had, at various times, worked as news editor and member of the editorial board.
Toyosi Ogunseye, award-winning investigative reporter, takes over from Mr. Nwankwo as editor of SUNDAY PUNCH.
Like Mr. Ayankola, Ms Ogunseye joined the paper in 2009 after stints in SUN and News Star. In 2011, she won the MSD Health and Medical Award in that year’s edition of the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the Year Awards.
The PUNCH is regarded as Nigeria’s widest circulating daily and is widely respected for its-pro-people stand on important national issues. It is also clearly the best run paper in the country today.