There has been yet another drama at Aso Rock Villa, the Seat of Nigeria’s Presidency in Abuja on Monday as the State House Correspondent of Punch newspapers, Olalekan Adetayo was expelled by Bashir Abubakar the Chief Security officer,CSO, TO President Muhammadu Buhari.But the Presidential Spokesman, Femi Adesina has swiftly disowned the move as he said the media office was not consulted.
Confirming the expulsion of its correspondent in a story on its website, Punch wrote: “The Chief Security Officer to President Muhammadu Buhari, Bashir Abubakar, on Monday expelled PUNCH’s State House Correspondent, Olalekan Adetayo, from the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“Abubakar had earlier summoned Adetayo to his office and questioned him on two reports he considered uncomplimentary of Buhari and his administration.
“He referred to the lead story of SUNDAY PUNCH of April 23, 2017, titled “Fresh anxiety in Aso Rock over Buhari’s poor health” and queried the motive behind it.
“He also referred to our corespondent’s column, Aso Rock Lens, published on Saturday, April 22, 2017, and titled “Seat of power’s event centres going into extinction.”
“Abubakar asked one of his men to go and take our correspondent’s statement and revert to him.
“He thereafter directed the Officer in Charge, Department of State Services, Victor Nwafor, to withdraw our correspondent’s accreditation tag and lead him out of the premises after retrieving his personal belongings from the Press Gallery of the Council Chambers.
“Nwafor left an instruction at the Admin Reception that Adetayo should no longer be allowed into the premises after which he handed him over to another security operative who led our correspondent to where his car was parked to ensure he left the premises as instructed.
Reacting to the development on his twitter handle,Adesina said “We weren’t consulted in the media office by the CSO before he expelled The Punch reporter. President Buhari is committed to press freedom.
According to the Presidential Spokesman, “An amicable solution would be found to The Punch reporter matter. President Buhari does not intend to muzzle the media in any way.
The expulsion of Punch correspondent perhaps shows that nothing has really changed for the reporters at the State House.A similar incident occurred during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s era.In that case, Ubale Musa ,a correspondent of Radio Germany was expelled for apparently asking uncomfortable question during an function at the Villa.
Little progress was made as Musa returned to the Villa after Buhari took over in 201; he is in fact the chairman of the State House Press corps.
The expulsion of Punch correspondent indicates that the uneasy relations between journalists and the officials require constant engagement.