The presidency has dismissed as sheer mischief, the attribution of the expulsion of the Punch reporter, Lekan Adetayo from the Villa, to the person of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated this in Abuja on Tuesday.
Mr. Shehu, who was reacting to the Guardian Newspaper’s headline report entitled; “Memories of Decree 4”, said it was wrong and improper to use the isolated incident to judge the character of the president as if he was responsible for what happened.
According to him, the president has not and would never approve the oppression and humiliation of any journalist in the course of carrying out their legitimate duties.
The presidential aide explained that the Guardian was behaving like someone waiting eagerly to attack the President at the slightest opportunity in order to portray the incident as evidence of his alleged dislike of the media.
He added that “despite the President dissociating himself from the unfortunate incident and the affected journalist being recalled, the Guardian still chose to go for the President’s jugular, holding him personally responsible for an action he knew nothing about’’.
Mr. Shehu noted that such headline was misleading and mischievous because it was seeking to portray the president personally in bad light, with the sinister purpose of making him look like an enemy of the media.
According to Mr. Shehu, since he was sworn into office, Mr. Buhari has not oppressed any media house or journalist on account of writing unfavourable reports about him or his government.
He reiterated the president’s respect for the freedom of the press and his commitment to protect their liberties at all times.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the State House correspondent of the Punch Newspapers, Olalekan Adetayo, who was earlier expelled from the beat by the president’s chief security officer on Monday, had since been recalled by the presidency.
Mr. Shehu in a statement on Monday night revealed that the recall of Mr. Adetayo followed the intervention of the Director-General of the Department for State Services, DSS, Lawan Daura.
However, the management of the Punch Newspapers on Tuesday gave conditions which must be met before the resumption of Adetayo to the Villa beat.
“Our demands are simple: a full and unqualified apology from (CSO to the President) Abubakar and the presidency, and the unconditional restoration of the reportorial access and privileges withdrawn from our reporter.
“The apology should be addressed to our reporter and our newspaper,’’ the newspaper said in its editorial on Tuesday.