The Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is demanding an apology from ThisDay newspaper and its publisher – Nduka Obaigbena – for engaging in what it called “a campaign of calumny” against the party’s presidential flag-bearer and former Lagos governor – Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In a statement issued Sunday by Bayo Onanuga – its director of media and publicity – the PCC said: “ThisDay newspaper carried its campaign of calumny against our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, too far on Friday (November 18, 2022), with a fake report about the death of a respected medical doctor, Kolapo Akande, who was the husband of Lola Akande, a commissioner in Lagos.
“The report denigrated Kolapo Akande and Asiwaju Tinubu, accusing the duo of being involved in the drug trade.
“Not caring a hoot about the need to respect the dead, the paper painted Akande as a drug lord, who had ‘lived under the radar and had stayed aloof from people’. Unknown to ThisDay, their imagined ‘hibernating’ Kolapo was an Accord Party candidate for the House of Representatives some years back.
“But in the paper’s pursuit of its jaundiced, cash-and-carry journalism, it gleefully reported that Kolapo Akande was the same Mueez Akande mentioned in the shuttered 30-year-old drug investigation against our candidate in the U.S.
“But it was all false. ThisDay wrote a mere fiction and had relied on a false tweet by one David Hundeyin, a hatchet writer and so-called investigative journalist, who has identified himself as a Peter Obi supporter.”
The campaign council continued: “Any reasonable publishing house ought to be wary of information coming from such a biased person, but not ThisDay. Anything that portrays Tinubu in a very bad light is fair game (to them) as such a report will justify the tonnes of naira that accompany it.
“The report has, however, turned into a huge embarrassment for the paper and further dented its credibility and integrity. ThisDay should be truly ashamed of its ethical standards. It descended so low that even the despicable David Hundeyin, said to be desperate for asylum in the UK, excoriated the newspaper for the report.
“Without sounding remorseful, Hundeyin recanted his tweet and wrote: ‘Not sure why ThisDay published such a story without confirming it, but my information now is that Dr. Kolapo Akande, who just died, is the elder brother of Mueez Adegboyega Akande (who is still very much alive). As such, I’m taking down my earlier tweet with the ThisDay story link.’
“In his earlier full tweet, the reckless journalist, whose modus operandi is more like Alex Jones of the U.S-based Infowars, had suggested that Tinubu masterminded Kolapo Akande’s death, quoting fictional ‘back channel sources’.
“What a wicked, unconscionable lie!”
The PCC maintained that the heart of journalism is the credo that a medium should seek to verify its information before dishing it out to the public, regretting that “ThisDay, just like its sister Arise TV News, has now clearly shown that it does not operate by such standards.”
The statement added: “We have waited for the past 48 hours, hoping the paper would show some remorse and apologise to the Akandes and Asiwaju Tinubu over the malicious report. We are surprised it has not taken such a dignified step.
“We now formally demand a full apology from the paper and its publisher, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, for the utterly unprofessional report.
“We hope henceforth the paper will seek to be driven by the ethical ideals of journalism and not other material considerations. Given the established evidence of a violation of the core ethics of journalism, we demand that the Nigeria Press Council take appropriate disciplinary action against ThisDay to save journalism at this sensitive period from the merchants of falsehood and abusers of the public trust that the press embodies.
“We call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to invoke the relevant sections of the Electoral Act 2022 to sue ThisDay and any other medium that commits a flagrant violation of editorial rules to the courts.
“These are the only remedies to the reckless journalism of ThisDay.
“They are the guarantees that the provisions of the Constitution mandating the Press as the Fourth Estate of the Realm shall be protected.”