THISDAY/Arise editors accuse Tinubu campaign of attacking free speech, say Nigeria can’t afford ‘Noriega moment’


The editors of THISDAY and Arise Television have accused Bayo Onanuga and Dele Alake of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign council of silencing free and fair journalism.


In a publication on Monday, the news organisations said they began having issues with the campaign council after publishing a report on the death of one Mueez Adegboyega Akande, an associate of Bola Tinubu, who was reportedly mentioned by US authorities in a drug trafficking case in 1993.


THISDAY/Arise editors said in denying the link between the aforementioned individual and Tinubu, Onanuga, the campaign’s media director, passed him off as one Kolapo.


“In the light of these continued attacks aimed at bullying and silencing free and fair journalism we will now set the records straight,” the publication reads.


 “In a statement he issued on 21 November 2022, Onanuga accused THISDAY of denigrating Kolapo, a medical doctor and ‘an Accord Party candidate for the House of Representatives some years back’.


“But a quick internet search showed that the Accord Party candidate in question was indeed Mueez. Where was Onanuga’s professionalism in passing off Mueez for Kolapo? Did he verify his story as a journalist of several decades?”


The media platforms said three online news outlets that published the campaign poster of Mueez as an Accord Party candidate have since deleted it from their websites.


The news organisations said the media should not shy away from scrutinising any candidate that is linked to alleged drug trafficking.


They insisted that Tinubu, standard bearer of the APC, must provide a satisfactory answer on the circumstances surrounding the forfeiture of funds to the US government.


“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,” they said.


“We remember the case of Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian leader who the US helped to put in power between 1983 and 1989, and whose involvement in drug trafficking later led to the US invasion of Panama, and his capture, trial and conviction in Miami.


 “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.”


THISDAY/Arise editors also accused the Tinubu campaign of making requests for the removal of Shaka Momodu, THISDAY editor, and Rufai Oseni, The Morning Show co-host, from their current positions.


The organisations noted that they will continue to provide fair coverage to the Tinubu campaign despite the “unwarranted attacks”.

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