THE BOARDS of Editors of THISDAY/ARISE News have accused the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of attempting to bully independent media organisations in the country ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The THISDAY/ARISE News Boards of Editors made the accusation in a joint statement titled ‘Tinubu and THISDAY/ARISE Media Group and the Attack on Free Speech’.
The editors condemned what they described as the unprofessional conducts, and continuous attacks on the news platforms, by the Director of Media and Publicity of the APC PCC, Bayo Onanuga, and the Director, Strategic Communication, Dele Alake.
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“The more we have ignored them the more they have mistaken our silence for cowardice and continued their unrelentless attacks with virulence, even threatening us with The Nigerian Press Council.
“A Press Council that has been completely rejected by the mainstream independent Nigerian media precisely for this reason: misuse and abuse by an incipient dictatorship.
“They are wrong. Truth and the pursuit thereof, and the reporting of facts are not biased. The duo has taken unprofessionalism, recklessness, picayune politics and blackmail to a new art form.
“After their first press statement, we ignored them; but they authored a second statement, which we again ignored, not wanting to insert ourselves into the political discourse,” the statement said.
The THISDAY/ARISE News editors added: “Imagine these insecure duos 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?”
Commenting on drug trafficking allegations against APC presidential flagbearer, Bola Tinubu, the editors stressed the need for the candidate to clear the air on the matter.
They also urged the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the National Security Adviser (NSA) to publicize their reports on the matter ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“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.”
Tinubu had refused to take part in the Presidential Town Hall Debates organised by Arise Television and its partners.
The debates have been graced by Tinubu’s counterparts in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso, respectively.
The APC campaign council had accused the organisers of the debates of bias against the party’s presidential candidate.
But, in the joint statement, the editors noted that seeking the truth on allegations concerning Tinubu is not bias.
“They are wrong. Truth and the pursuit thereof, and the reporting of facts is no bias. The duo (Onanuga and Alake) has taken unprofessionalism, recklessness, picayune politics and blackmail to a new art form. After their first press statement, we ignored them; but they authored a second statement, which we again ignored, not wanting to insert ourselves into the political discourse.”
The THISDAY/ARISE News editors further accused the leadership of the APC presidential campaign media team of trying to interfere in the running of the two news organisations.
“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 complaints and discipline any abuse of office by any of our staff members,” the statement added.
The editors said they will continue to be open, unbiased and professional. “However, we will not be intimidated by the bullying tactics of some APC campaign officials,” they insisted.
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