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PUNCH demands apology, says Buhari’s CSO should be sanctioned

PUNCH demands apology, says Buhari’s CSO should be sanctioned
April 25
14:33 2017

The PUNCH newspaper has demanded that an apology be tendered by the presidency over the “unwarranted, unjustified and condemnable” expulsion of its reporter from Aso Rock.

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On Monday, Bashir Abubakar, President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief security officer (CSO),  expelled Olalekan Adetayo, state house correspondent of the newspaper, from the villa.

Abubakar had summoned Adetayo over two reports – ‘Seat of power’s event centres going into extinction’ and ‘Fresh anxiety in Aso Rock over Buhari’s poor health’ published on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

After questioning him, the CSO directed that his accreditation tag be withdrawn and that he should be escorted out of the villa.

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However, Femi Adesina, spokesman of Buhari, said the CSO did not consult the presidency before taking the action.

In reaction to the development, PUNCH said Abubakar abused his office by conducting a “bizarre, one-sided summary trial in his office”.

It also called for Abubakar to be “heavily” reprimanded and censured by his principal and superiors.

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“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,” PUNCH wrote.

“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.

“Abubakar’s harassment and humiliation of our reporter are unwarranted, unjustified and, therefore, condemnable. His reckless display of power is an abuse of his office and an affront to our newspaper.

“This sordid event would have been comical if not for its tragic implications for our democracy, the freedom of the press and the inalienable right of every Nigerian citizen to the freedom of expression.

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“As our paper went to bed last night, we were made aware of the efforts of saner and less-emotive heads within the presidency to convene a parley to resolve the issue.

“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.”

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Meanwhile, Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, has recalled Adetayo to the villa.

He requested Ubale Musa, chairman, state house correspondents, to come with Adetayo on Tuesday, adding that the matter would be duly resolved.

Shehu also advised that the matter be handled with maturity.

However, PUNCH stated that its reporter will not honour the invitation.

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“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,” PUNCH wrote.

“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.”

 

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