The Boards of Editors of THISDAY Newspaper and The ARISE News Channel have accused the Presidential Campaign Council of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of demanding the sack of its journalists over “unfavourable reportage”.
The boards, in a joint editorial published in the December 12 edition of THISDAY newspaper, accused the PCC Special Adviser on Media and Strategic Communication, Dele Alake, and Director of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, of instigating the sack of Arise TV broadcaster, Rufai Oseni, and columnist, Shaka Momodu of THISDAY.
“We also note that two senior APC campaign officials had separately requested that we move THISDAY Editor and columnist, Shaka Momodu, and The Morning Show co-host on ARISE News, Rufai Oseni, from their current positions to stop the attacks or get reprieve from a future Tinubu presidency,” a paragraph in the editorial reads.
The media organisations and the APC PCC have been at loggerheads in the past couple of months, particularly over the reporting of the 1993 alleged money laundering and drug-related case in the United States, where the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu forfeited £460,000 in connection with the case.
In November, Mr Alake, on behalf of the PCC wrote a petition against Arise TV, a move that got the station to be sanctioned by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Mr Alake’s petition was in respect of news aired by Arise TV that INEC was considering investigating Mr Tinubu’s involvement in the 1992 drug case. INEC, however, debunked the news as false.
In the petition, Mr Alake said the TV station allowed guests on their shows to label Mr Tinubu as “indicted” despite the evidence available to them.
Similarly, THISDAY newspaper published another news article claiming that Mueez Akande, one of the persons indicted in the 1992 case, died amidst the resurfacing of the drug case. However, it later emerged that it was Kolapo Akande, a sibling of the infamous Akande, who died.
Also, Mr Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC, refused to participate in the town hall series organised by the television station and some media organisations. Mr Tinubu’s team has repeatedly attacked the media organisation and accused it of bias.
Recently, the PCC urged its supporters to boycott the television station because of its posturing on Mr Tinubu.
The boards accused the campaign of showing Mr Tinubu’s dictatorial tendencies even before getting into office.
“Imagine these insecure duo of Onanuga and Alake already threatening the free press when they are seeking our votes. What will they do if Tinubu was elected President? Kill independent media or take their markets over using the power of the state and replacing them with media platforms they control and which kowtow to them?” the editorial reads.
Speaking on the Mueez Akande story, the boards said the families of the Akandes are yet to issue a statement on the story, hence the reason the medium has yet to issue an apology.
“Did THISDAY mix-up the identity (of two brothers?) We needed to be sure before issuing an apology. We needed to hear from the family. Till date we have not heard from the family. The fact is that mistakes in reporting the death of someone who may not have died is not unusual in the media,” the editorial also said.
Mr Onanuga did not respond to the request for comment as he did not pick up calls neither did he reply a text message sent to his mobile phone.
Driving an agenda
But messrs Alake and Onanuga, in a joint statement in response to the editorial, accused the owner of THISDAY/ARISE, Nduka Obaigbena, of using the Boards of Editors to drive an agenda.
In the statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, the campaign said Mr Obaigbena has no moral right to be “a guardian of public morality in contemporary Nigerian media practice.”
“Not only does THISDAY newspaper publish unfounded rumours masquerading as truth, many of its columnists substitute vile and vulgar abuse for sound logic and informed analyses while its television anchors heckle and harass their guests, particularly those of the APC in their jaundiced, flagrantly unprofessional programmes,” the campaign stated.
Speaking on the Mueez Akande, the campaign said the editorial by THISDAY and Arise TV tried the justify the fake news by rationalising it.
“THISDAY’s attempt in the said statement to justify its false news report on the purported death of one Mueez Adegboyega Akande and the attempt to insinuate mischievously that he died in suspicious circumstances failed abysmally. Rather than apologise for this professional lapse, it resorts to tendentious rationalisations,” the statement said
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