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APC denies silencing independent media

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has described as baseless, accusation that it is attempting to silence independent media and bully the country’s press ahead of 2023 general election.

The party said this in a statement issued late Monday night and signed by Mr Bayo Onanuga, Director of Media and Publicity, APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), and Mr Dele Alake, its Adviser on Media and Communication.

The statement is the party’s reaction to an accusation by Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Thisday and Arise News Television, Mr Nduka Obaigbena.

Recall that owners of Thisday and Arise Television on Monday, accused the APC PCC Director of Media and Publicity and Alake of attempting to silence independent media and bully the press.

“It is laughably tragic that the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Thisday and Arise News Television, Mr Nduka Obaigbena, has the temerity to pretend to be a guardian of public morality in contemporary Nigerian media practice.

“The fact that this character is an unscrupulous hustler and blackmailer who has done tremendous damage to the journalism profession in the country is well known within and beyond the profession,” the statement said.

It said the accusation published on the front page of Thisday was illustrative of the penchant of the two media houses under Obaigbena’s influence to peddle falsehood.

It added that the media houses had been engaging in brazen political partisanship, contrary to the ethics of journalism practice.

“It is instructive that Obaigbena’s media group is isolated in making this frivolous allegation against the duo.

“Not only does Thisday newspaper publish unfounded rumours masquerading as truth, many of its columnists substitute vile and vulgar abuse for sound logic and informed analyses.

“Its television anchors, heckles and harasses their guests, particularly those of the APC in their jaundiced, flagrantly unprofessional programmes,” the statement alleged.

It recalled that both Thisday and Arise Television sought to bully and compel the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, into attending its Town Hall meetings with other presidential candidates.

This, it said, was despite the APC media team’s explanation that it would not attend such programmes organised in a haphazard and uncoordinated manner by individual media houses.

The statement explained that each candidate’s campaign team had the right to adopt its own strategies for reaching out to and interacting with Nigerians.

“As we have repeatedly said, the Tinubu campaign will not succumb to the blackmail, intimidation and harassment of Obaigbena and his media group.

“Thisday’s attempt in the said statement to justify its false news report on the purported death of one Mueez Adegboyega Akande and the attempt to insinuate mischievously that he died in suspicious circumstances failed abysmally.

“Rather than apologise for this professional lapse, it resorted to tendentious rationalisations,” the statement added.

It said it was a futile attempt to link Asiwaju Tinubu to a drug case in the United States, even when as far back as 2003, the U.S. government had categorically stated that the candidate had no criminal records in that country.

It added that the report showed the depths of mischief the newspaper was willing to descend to in its bid to bring down the APC presidential candidate at all costs.

The statement stressed that this campaign of calumny is doomed to fail as it always had.

It maintained that the APC presidential candidate is, however, focused and would not be distracted by diversionary tactics to throw mud at him simply because he is the obvious front runner in the presidential race.

This, the statement, said was the reason some people believed that the only way to stop Tinubu was to peddle falsehood against him.

“While pretending to be a public trust, Thisday and Arise descended into the political arena by publishing lies in a way that does such a great disservice to journalism.

“In November, the paper was sanctioned by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over a fake report that INEC had ordered a probe of Tinubu.

“Nduka Obaigbena tries to cast aspersion on the professional and personal integrity of Alake and Onanuga. They stand on a higher moral and professional pedestal than he can ever aspire to.

“It is astonishing that a man like Obaigbena can even pretend to be protecting public morality and the public interest,” the statement said.

It said Obaigbena was notorious for owing his staff their salaries and for owning newsprint suppliers for years without payment.

“Yet, this man dares to preach on public morality and the national interest. He even claims that Alake and Onanuga are envious of him.

“There is nothing to be envious from a man whose business practices and personal lifestyle offend every known decency.

“Alake and Onanuga can never be jealous of a man who uses extortion, subterfuge, and cheap blackmail as his working capital,” the statement said.

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