Chris Steven, Abuja
Following the expulsion of its State House Correspondent, Olalekan Adetayo from the Presidential Villa by the Chief Security Officer, CSO to President Muhammadu Buhari, Bashir Abubakar, the Management of The Punch Newspaper has demanded an unreserved apology from the Presidency and the CSO.
In her Editorial Comment on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, titled: Aso Villa Expulsion: Our Stand, the newspaper writes: “Our demands are simple: a full and unqualified apology from Abubakar and the presidency, and the unconditional restoration of the reportorial access and privileges withdrawn from our reporter.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.
In this dispensation, vindictive and overbearing security operatives, like Abubakar, ought to bear three things in mind as they carry out their duties. One, Nigeria is a democracy, the martial antecedents of its current president notwithstanding. Two, those who hold positions of authority do so at the pleasure of the public. Three, public servants, no matter how influential, are mere tenants in the corridors of power”.
It would be recalled that Abubakar had ordered the PUNCH Correspondent to leave the Villa over a report the Newspaper published on Sunday on the state of health of President Buhari. The action drew widespread condemnations following which the Media Aide to the President, Femi Adesina wrote that the CSO acted on his own.
Adetayo was later recalled to Villa in the evening.
But the PUNCH in the editorial lamented that what the President‘s CSO conducted on Monday was ‘a bizarre, one-sided summary trial in his office’
“Abubakar was the complainant, prosecutor and the judge. The defendants were The PUNCH and its State House Correspondent, Olalekan Adetayo, whom Abubakar accused of writing a ‘sponsored story’ and penning an ill-motivated opinion article on the President’s health.
It was in vain that Adetayo tried to explain to the CSO that the said story, Fresh anxiety in Aso Rock over Buhari’s poor health, and his column, Seat of power’s event centres going into extinction, were done in the ordinary course of his duties, and without any ulterior motive” it said .
The Newspaper further said, “We are happy to inform the authorities that our reporter will neither attend the meeting planned for today nor subject himself to yet another Kangaroo trial.
We hold that besides presidential introspection, what this situation requires is not a soft landing for a security operative who acted beyond his brief. What Abubakar deserves is a stinging reprimand from his superiors, heavy censure from his principal and the outrage of all right thinking members of the society”.