The Board of Editors of THISDAY/ARISE News, have accused the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of attempts to stiifle media organisations in the country ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The Board also called on the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) to investigate and publish the report of presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s involvement in drug dealings in the United States.
This was contained in a joint statment issued on Monday by ThisDay and Arise.
The statement titled, ‘Tinubu and THISDAY/ARISE Media Group and the Attack on Free Speech”, said the attack on the Media outlet was heightened after the it published a report on November 18, 2022 that alleged the death of Mueez Adegboyega Akande who is an associate of Tinubu also mentioned in a drug trafficking investigation in the US in 1993.
But the APC PCC denied the report, accusing the newspaper of bias and that ThisDay/Arise mixed up the identity of two brothers.
“Unknown to ThisDay, their imagined hibernating Kolapo was an Accord Party candidate for the House of Representative some years back”, Bayo Onanuga, Director of Media and Publicity, APC PCC.
In the statament, ThisDay/Arise is insisting that “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. But then a quick statement from the family of the person so reported to have died.”
According to the newspaper, despite the absence of a statement from the family of Mueez denying his death, members of the APC PCC have continued to attack the papar.
The statement said, “In at least four separate press statements and interviews in the last three weeks, the APC PCC Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, and its Adviser on Strategic Communications, Mr Dele Alake, instead of factually responding to the issues or sending a petition to our Ombudsman, have variously accused the group of bias against its candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“They are wrong. Truth and the pursuit thereof, and the reporting of facts is no bias. The duo has taken unprofessionalism, recklessness, picayune politics and blackmail to a new art form.”
Reports and documents on public space claim that the APC presidential candidate was shrouded in a drug allegation in the US where he forfeited $460,000 to the US government.
The statement added, “It is important to state that for national security, foreign policy, and national interest, any candidate aspiring to be the President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria should not shy away from media scrutiny concerning any link with drug trafficking, or be associated with anyone so involved, however tangentially.
“It is a national security question for which all patriots must seek answers: it goes to the heart of our nascent democracy and indeed our political stability. We need full and complete answers on the entire circumstances leading to the forfeiture.
“Nigeria cannot afford a Noriega moment despite some of the acrobatics of APC spokesmen trying to make light of forfeiture of funds linked to drug trafficking.
“Have the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) investigated this? We need their reports and clarity, one way or the other, in this most important national security question on the 2023 elections with implications for our democracy.”
The Board further accused two senior APC campaign officials of separately requesting that THISDAY Editor and columnist, Shaka Momodu, and The Morning Show co-host on ARISE News, Rufai Oseni be moved from their current role.
According to the Board, failure to adhere will attract severe punishment if their principal, Tinubu emerges president in the 2023 presidential election.
The Board noted, “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.
“The Boards of Editors of THISDAY Newspapers and the ARISE News Channel would like to state without equivocation that we do not fire journalists because of their views. Facts are sacred and opinions free is the age-old dictum to which all free-thinking men subscribe. We allow our editors the freedom to air their opinions unfettered and have created The Office of the Ombudsman to take any complains and discipline any abuse of office by any of our staff members.”