Thu. May 23rd, 2024

By Ojukwu Emmanuel Chiadikaobi

 

Segun Olatunji, the General Editor of FirstNews, has tendered his resignation following a controversial apology issued by the management of the media house to Femi Gbajabiamila, the Chief of Staff to the President. Olatunji’s resignation comes in the wake of a tumultuous period marked by his abduction and subsequent detention for two weeks by military personnel on March 15, 2024, from his residence in Lagos.

The saga began with a news story penned by Olatunji titled “How Gbajabiamila attempted to corner $30bn, 66 houses traced to Sabiu.” This article allegedly contained falsehoods and fabricated information, prompting the management of FirstNews to extend a public apology to Gbajabiamila. In their statement, the management acknowledged their negligence in verifying the authenticity of the story and expressed regret for any harm caused to the Chief of Staff’s reputation.

In response to the management’s stance and the unfolding situation, Olatunji decided to resign from his position, citing concerns for his safety and that of his family. In his resignation letter addressed to the Publisher/Managing Director of First Media Network Limited, Olatunji maintained his innocence, expressing confidence that the truth would eventually come to light.

Despite parting ways with the organization, Olatunji raised an issue regarding outstanding salaries, urging the management to settle the dues promptly. His departure underscores the gravity of the situation and the far-reaching implications for both the media house and its former editor.

Meanwhile, Olatunji’s abduction and subsequent release sparked widespread condemnation and calls for investigation from various quarters. The International Press Institute, Nigeria, uncovered his whereabouts, revealing that he was held in the custody of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Abuja under inhumane conditions. His release was secured following sustained pressure from media stakeholders and civil society organizations.

In April, media stakeholders, including the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria, escalated the matter by referring it to the National Media Complaints Commission, acting as the National Media Ombudsman. They emphasized the importance of resolving the issue in accordance with the law and Nigeria’s constitutional provisions.

As the saga unfolds, the spotlight remains on the intertwined issues of press freedom, journalistic integrity, and accountability within Nigeria’s media landscape. The outcome of the Ombudsman’s adjudication process is eagerly awaited, with hopes pinned on a resolution that upholds the principles of justice and transparency.

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