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ALLEGED PURCHASE OF BULLET PROOF CARS: National Pilot responds to Gov Abdulrazaq’s ultimatum

...newspaper has not erred, Kwarans show solidarity

…newspaper has not erred, Kwarans show solidarity

Tread with caution, allow media do its job, ex-NBA chair tells Gov

By Joke Adeniyi-Jackson

The report on the alleged acquisition of two bullet-proof vehicles
valued at N480m by the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq
has continued to generate reactions from people  within and outside
the state.
The story, which was published by this medium in its vol 30, No 38
also attracted reaction from the Governor on Friday.
Governor Abdulrazaq through his Chief Press Secretary, Mallam Rafiu
Ajakaye had in the statement issued ultimatum to National Pilot to
pull down the report from its platforms within 24 hours.
The Governor further threatened legal action against the news medium
in  the event that the demand was not met.
However, National Pilot, yesterday reacted to the Governor’s
ultimatum, stating that the report was not meant to malign his person.
In the 10 paragraph response, the medium stated that the report is an
” allegation and assertion”, adding that it was not ill-conceived or
published with bad intent.
It added that the response of the CPS on behalf of his principal was
gotten to balance the story, as a responsible news medium.
“We wish to state that as a responsible newspaper, we strictly
followed ethics of journalism in the report. In line with the dictates
of professionalism, the Governor’s spokesperson, Mallam Ajakaiye was
contacted for his reaction on  the allegation and he obliged our
report with response, denying  that the story was untrue which was
published as well as given prominence on the cover of the said
publication.
“The report, we vehemently state is an allegation and not assertion.
It is neither libelious nor defamatory because we did not accuse the
Governor of any act of criminality, fraud or inappropriety in the
acquisition of the vehicles,” the newspaper  added.


Kwara Governor’s Ultimatum: Our response

On Friday, 25th, October,  2019, Mallam Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press
Secretary (CPS) to the Kwara State Governor,  issued a statement
describing the lead story of Vol 30, No 38 of our publication, titled
“Gov Abdulrazaq allegedly acquires N480m 2 bullet-proof jeeps,” as
“fake news”.
It is unfortunate that the  CPS devoted his   rebuttal to discrediting
our sense of professionalism. Contrary to his claim, our report was
never intended to malign the Governor.
We wish  to state that as a responsible newspaper, we strictly
followed the ethics of journalism in the report. In line with the
dictates of  professionalism, the Governor’s  spokesperson, Mallam
Ajakaye was contacted for his reaction on  the allegation and he
obliged our report with response, dismissing the allegation as untrue,
which was published as well as given prominence on the cover of the
said publication. Owing to the fact that the report was not
ill-conceived or published with bad intent, production of the report
was delayed because the reaction of   the Governor’s media handler did
not come until  midnight, a development which led to our newspaper
getting to the newsstands late (8:45am) and with consequential
colossal loss in sales and revenue.
The report, we vehemently state is an allegation and not assertion. It
is neither libelious nor defamatory because we did not accuse the
Governor of any act of criminality,  fraud or inappropriety in
acquisition of the vehicles. We want to reiterate that the Governor
has the  right to buy vehicle(s) for private or official use. More so,
bullet proof in view of the state of insecurity in the country. In
any case, his predecessors also purchased cars for use when they got
into office, so also other state governors across the country.
All we reported  was an allegation, that he acquired vehicles, which
we believe will be of interest to the public. As a top public
officeholder, his actions and activities are subject to public
scrutiny and interest. The motivation for the report was purely hinged
on  public interest.  Allegations like this  will continue to come up
and when they do, it is our duty to give the other party opportunity
to respond, this we have done in the handling of the story. This has
been underscored by reactions of readers and seasoned journalists who
have continued to commend our sense of professionalism  in handling
this story.
We strongly believe that the report does not warrant any kind of
threat to us from the Governor, so is the ultimatum-backed demand for
retraction and apology. At National Pilot, we strongly believe that a
newspaper is held in public trust, consequently, we have remained
constantly non partisan and do not pander to sentiments. We have been
going about our job and mandate with high sense of professionalism and
responsibility. In this light, we say boldly that National Pilot has
nothing against the Kwara State Government or Governor Abdulrazaq.
For us, Kwara comes first and therefore we put public interest over
and above every other sentiment. As watchdogs of the society, we
recognise our responsibility to put to task  public office holders and
also put them on their toes for better governance. We do this
irrespective of whosoever is in power,  as such making  government
accountable to the citizens. This much, we demonstrated even during
the era of the immediate past  administration. As a newspaper, we are
accountable to our readers and Kwarans in general. So also,  we are
conscientious in the discharge of our responsibilities at all times
being a credible news medium.
In our show of non partisanship, we have on several occasions
published stories and photographs about activities of the Gov.
Abdulrazaq’s administration.
However, the ultimatum issued to the newspaper by the Governor’s aide
is uncalled for. Mallam Ajakaye as a professional should have rather
written a rejoinder stating the other side of the story  as against
his threat of legal action.
We want to believe the present administration is not a government of
coercion or intimidation. How the Governor  will handle this case will
go a long way to show to the whole world whether his administration
promotes  freedom of expression or not. It is also left to be seen if
his is a government that will stifle or muzzle the media, and  adopt
coercion as state policy.
We are ready to support the government of Governor Abdulrazaq even
more than we have been doing, as long as it is poised to take Kwara to
higher pedestal of development because we believe in a better Kwara
for all.  Consequently  we want the Governor to see us as partner in
the  quest to take Kwara to next level and not as enemy.
And, to our esteemed readers and for the protection of our hard earned
reputation as a leading newspaper in the state, we want to staunchly
state that our mandate is to promote better governance for better
Kwara.


…newspaper has not erred, Kwarans show solidarity

By Adebayo Olodan, Kayode Adeoti and Mike Adeyemi

Kwarans and residents of the state at the weekend showed solidarity to
National Pilot over the 24-hour ultimatum handed down to the medium by
the Kwara State Governor following its lead headline on alleged
purchase of bullet-proof jeeps by Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.
In a telephone interview with our reporter, a veteran sports
journalist, Bayour Issah, said, “National Pilot has done its
professional job. The sensitivity of the story is what the government
is against but the medium has done its job.
“Journalists are watchdogs and we must be professional at all times.
Facts are sacred, reactions are normal. Truth shall prevail as courts
are there to justify litigations.”
Lending her voice to the matter, a trader at Oja-Oba, Ilorin, who
simply identified herself as Hajia Afusat  said it was too early for
the administration of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to threaten
anyone with litigation, moreso when the organisation is a media house
discharging its statutory duties.
“I  was surprised when l heard on the  radio that our governor has
threatened to take National Pilot newspaper to court for publishing a
story that he bought two bullet-proof jeeps worth several millions of
naira.
“The governor needs to realise that he is no longer just any
individual but a public property whose everyday affairs is likely to
be discussed in public places.
“If Governor Abulrazaq decides to seek legal redress against everyone
who make unfavourable publications and comments against him, at the
end of his tenure, he would have succeeded in taking half of the
population of the state to court.”
On his part, a public senior secondary school teacher in Ilorin who
pleaded anonymity described the action of Governor Abdulrazaq as anti-
democratic saying his action may have taken Kwara State about two
decades back.
According to him, it is erroneous for any government to try and gag
the media or harass media practitioners.
” When l read through the said story, l discovered that the reporter
and the medium displayed high sense of professionalism with their
balanced reportage by getting across to the Governor’s spokesperson.
“Rather than threatening the medium with litigation, l think what is
needed here is for the media team of the governor to learn to perfect
its relationship with all the print and electronic medium in the state
and beyond.”
A teacher, Mr.  Tajudeen Ismail, said National Pilot has not committed
any offence in the report.
“I don’t think that the Kwara State Governor should take legal action
against the newspaper because it is doing its job  of putting across
information to the public.
An undergraduate, Timothy Samuel, cautioned the state government
against clamping down on the media, saying such will be despotic.
He urged the governor to be tolerant to criticism and face the
business of governance squarely.
A car dealer, Mr Tunde Omikunle urged the newspaper not to be deterred
from discharging its responsibility as a credible news medium.
“I  have been an avid reader of National Pilot newspaper.  The
publication is known for its credibility, it has always been very
objective in its reports.
Also, a Kwara-based businessman, Mr.  Moses Babatunde applauded the
newspaper for  its ‘rare display of courage’ and keen professionalism.
” I have  known National Pilot for investigative news report. It is
not one of those newspapers that publish junks or fake news.
Therefore, I was surprised at the challenge by the governor.  I still
believe 100 percent that the newspaper got it facts right before going
to press with the report.”
Also, a civil servant in the state, who craved anonymity for fear of
victimisation, chided the state government for demanding a retraction
and apology letter from National Pilot, saying it is not a crime for
media outfit to perform its  duties.
He added that  what National Pilot did is not unexpected of a medium
that knows its worth, saying the content of the story  did not indict
the government in anyway.
“I’m surprised at the way government moved against National Pilot, the
medium was not accusing Governor Abdulrazaq of fraud, embezzlement or
any misdeed, but since he’s the number one public officer  in the
state, whatever he does interest Kwarans.
“We don’t expect any reaction from government, all  we demand is good
governance, not an attack on media,” he emphasised.
In the same vein,  a resident of Gaa-Odota, Ilorin,   Abubakar
Alhassan who lend his voice on the issue stated that the medium has
not run foul of  media ethics.
According to him, the word ‘allegedly’ was used in the report, this
means, the medium was not directly accusing governor of buying the
said jeep.
“Ours is a democratic society, we must move with time. National Pilot,
to the best of my knowledge is always armed with facts, and their
sources  credible. I’ve known the medium for years, they don’t publish
stories that cannot be substantiated.
“National Pilot did a similar report in the case of Kwara South, House
of Reps member, who is popularly called Ajulo-Opin, today, the
lawmaker is cruising the Lexus jeep around. I think we should allow
media houses to do their jobs in an atmosphere devoid of harassment,
intimidation and threat,” Alhassan stated.
A popular blogger in the state, Shola Olusegun, better known as
Sholyment, wrote; “Somebody should tell CPS to the Executive Governor
of Kwara State, Mr. Rafiu Ajakaye to resign if he’s not capable of
what he was hired for. Threatening Kwarans of dissent views with legal
action cannot shut us up. He also said he could not speak for the
state government. Responsible government engages citizens with
persuasive explanations and not threats.”
In his reaction a social media commentator, Abdul Abdul posted; “I
don’t know why Kwara APC media operators are thinking the Sarakites
are their enemies when their real enemies are within and among
themselves in their party.”
Similarly, cross section of personalities who spoke on condition of
anonymity  to this medium in separate telephone calls, expressed
solidarity with the newspaper over the development.
A traditional ruler from the Kwara South senatorial district, said the
newspaper has been non partisan in its reports, which has earned it
wide readership over time.
For a former Head of Service in the state, the report is balanced and
as such vindicated National Pilot  from being partisan.
“The report further demonstrated the professionalism for which your
newspaper is known for. National Pilot has been living up to its
billings as a newspaper that will not compromise public interest in
its reports,” he added.
A retired civil servant, advised the Governor to develop thick skin to
criticism.
” A good leader should be ready to absorb criticism and sieve the
wheats from the chaff. There will always be criticism, that he has to
understand.”


Tread with caution, allow media do its job, ex-NBA chair tells Abdulrazaq

By Kayode Adeoti

The immediate past chairman of the Ilorin branch of the Nigerian Bar
Association (NBA), Isah Manzuma, yesterday, joined other Kwarans in
reacting to the unfolding drama between the state government and
National Pilot newspaper.
Manzuma, in a telephone chat with our reporter, urged the Abdulrazaq’s
led administration to allow the media in the state perform their
official responsibility without hindrance.
According to him, media is an integral part of the society saddled to
play important roles especially in a democratic setting.
He added that the media, being part of the democracy system reserves
the right to embark on investigative report.
“I think media is an essential part of the government and its work
involves investigative journalism. If a report is not true, government
definitely has right of action against the media house that may have
made published such report. This is democracy and it is give and take.
“An America President once said he would prefer a democracy without
government than democracy without media. Media is very important in
every society. I appeal to the state government to tread with caution
so that the media can play their roles,” he stressed.
Also speaking on the issue is the former scribe of the NBA, Sulyman
Abaya, who condemned the state government for asking National Pilot to
retract the report or tender an apology even as he said government’s
reaction was uncalled for.
Abaya, maintained that the state government does not have any cause of
legal action against the medium as the report in contention is not
libelous in any way.
According to Abaya, libel is when one deliberately publish falsehood
against an individual, but it’s not so in the case.
The former NBA scribe added that onus is on the media to reveal the
disposition of the governor through investigative journalism and
balanced reportage since he is now a public officer.
“The comment calling for the retraction or an apology on the report is
uncalled for because it is not libel. Libel is when one knowingly
published falsehood statement against an individual, it’s not so in
this case. A public officer such as the governor will be held to
account for not only the way he uses his office but his way of life.
Still speaking on why National Pilot had not erred, Abaya noted that
the medium got the reaction of the governor through his media aide
where he debunked the allegation saying the development shows that the
report is not targeted to smear the image of Governor Abdulrazaq.
“The publication was an account of what the media was hinted and made
findings about, the government had correctly rejected the allegation;
the reaction of the government house which was also published in the
paper indicated that it might be true after all.
“The report was meant to carry out social responsibility, to make the
public know the reality and disposition of the number one citizen in
Kwara.
“All over the world, Guardian in London, and the likes have social
responsibility to reflect lifestyle of government functionaries. The
moment an individual picks up public office, he doesn’t have privacy
again because he has put himself in the public arena which people can
use their torchlight to know,” he stressed.

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