The Nigerian police has expelled a Vanguard reporter, Kingsley Omonobi, for a report published on the just sacked Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba.
In an April 23 report titled, “Drama as Abba stalls handover for hours, 3 DIGs protest Arase’s appointment”, Mr. Omonobi, alongside two colleagues – Soni Daniel and Emma Nnadozie – reported that Mr. Abba stalled handover to his successor, Solomon Arase.
The police in a statement sent to media houses by its spokesperson, Emmanuel Ojukwu, however, said the Vanguard’s publication was misleading and malicious and aimed at portraying the Nigeria Police in a bad light.
The police demanded a retraction of the publication and distribution to match the report by Messrs. Omonobi, Daniel and Nnadozie.
“Substitution of Kingsley Omonobi as your assigned correspondent to the Force Headquarters as his accreditation has been withdrawn forthwith,” Mr. Ojukwu said.
The trio, in their publication, said the handover, slated for 8 a.m. on Thursday, was delayed till about 4 p.m. due to Mr. Abba’s absence.
This, the police said, was false.
The report further said, “Vanguard learnt that reporters who converged in their numbers early in the morning for the handover, were disappointed as they were not allowed access to the police headquarters. No reasons, according to sources, were given for the delay in the handing over ceremony.”
However, Mr. Ojukwu, countering the report, said, “This statement is completely false and misleading as no such invitation was sent to any journalist, your correspondent inclusive as claimed. The only invitation sent out regarding the handing over ceremony was sent out at 1:44 p.m of 22.04.2015 via sms stating commencement of event for 3pm of same day.”
He also refuted Vanguard’s report that the former IGP removed all his personal belongings before leaving his office at the Force Headquarters at about 11.20 p.m.
Mr. Ojukwu said his former boss closed from office the day he was sacked long before the time reported by the journalists.
He also countered that three Deputy Inspectors of Police protested the appointment of Mr. Arase by President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said all the DIGs were in their offices waiting for a smooth transition process which he said took place at 3 p.m.
While PREMIUM TIMES could not get the Vanguard editor, Mideno Bayegbon, to speak on the matter, Mr. Omonobi said the issue has been resolved with the police.
He said, “The story is false. One of the reporters in Lagos filed the story, although he called me, since I was in Abuja, for confirmation and I told him that that didn’t happen. I was surprised to wake up to the story but all that has been resolved with the police.”
He also said the police sanctioned him because his byline was also on the story and that too has been resolved while he has been reinstated as the Vanguard reporter on the beat.
The police is however yet to issue a rejoinder to their statement expelling Mr. Omonobi.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Mr. Abba only got to know about his sack via twitter.
This newspaper also learnt he was not officially informed about his sack even at 11 p.m. on Tuesday.