PREMIUM TIMES has announced that it was pulling from its website a January 15 story on an alleged Instagram comment by Ajibola Ajayi, a daughter of Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi.
The story titled “Ajimobi’s daughter labels protesting LAUTECH students ‘Generation of Mannerless Students'” was based on a post by Instagram account @conceited_csj, which described protesting students of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology as “Generation of Mannerless Children.”
A similar story was published in several other Nigerian publications. The Instagram account, which was initially made private, has since been deleted.
But after the story was published, Mrs. Ajayi circulated a press statement denying ownership of the Instagram account.
Her complaint prompted the management of this medium to commission an internal inquiry on the publication.
PREMIUM TIMES Managing Editor, Idris Akinbajo, said his website decided to remove the controversial publication due to “gatekeeping error in the treatment of that story.”
Mr. Akinbajo said, “We commissioned an internal enquiry and it was clear that the handling of that story by the editor on duty fell far short of our standard.
“Our gatekeeping process is pretty rigorous and if it had been followed, the ownership of the Instagram account should have been ascertained and more documentary evidence collected before publication.
“Before publishing the story, our reporter tried to find out the authenticity of the post from the governor’s spokesperson as reflected in the story, but by our standard, that is clearly not enough.
“We offer Mrs. Ajayi sincere apologies, and assure her that we meant no malice to her and her family, and that this was clearly an avoidable editorial error.”
Meanwhile, Mrs. Ajayi delivered a letter to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday reiterating her denial of the ownership of the account.
She, through her lawyers, described the report as false, libelous and malicious, saying it had caused her and her husband grave reputational damage and untold psychological and emotional hardship.
“Our client has never addressed the students nor made such statements towards the students whether on her Instagram page or anywhere whatsoever,” she said.
“Since the date of publication attributed to our client, our client and her immediate family have been subjected to opprobrium, public ridicule, backlash, intimidation, violent threats and hatred within and outside Nigeria.”
The governor’s daughter therefore demanded apology and withdrawal of the story.
LAUTECH students had on January 9 protested the closure of their university since June last year.
The Oyo governor, whose state jointly owns the university, peeved by the outbursts of the protesting students, chastised them for their reaction.
“Your school being locked for eight months is no big deal. Is your school the first to be locked, if this is how you will come to talk to me, go and do your worst, I dare you,” he said.
In her letter to PREMIUM TIMES, the governor’s daughter said she could not have disparaged the protesters because she is sympathetic to their plight and empathizes with them.