*Overzealous Buhari’s CSO expelled reporter from Aso Rock over report
*Recalled with divergent voices from government
*Underlines pressure and pain from media reportage
in what looked like an official clampdown on the freedom of the press, the Chief Security Officer to President Muhammadu Buhari, Bashir Abubakar, on Monday allegedly expelled the State House Correspondent with Punch Newspaper, Olalekan Adetayo, from the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Adetayo was invited to Abubakar’s office and was questioned over two reports in the newspaper considered uncomplimentary of Buhari and his administration.
He subsequently directed the Officer in Charge, Department of State Services, Victor Nwafor, to withdraw the reporter’s accreditation tag. He was led 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 henceforth. With the bad media and attack by Nigerians on the government, the government had to make a volte face and was forced to recall the reporter. The presidency claims she is seeking an amicable solution to the expulsion of the Punch reporter.
Femi Adesina, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari in a serial of tweets on his Twitter said the media office was not consulted before Adetayo was expelled.
“We weren’t consulted in the media office by the CSO before he expelled The Punch reporter. President Buhari is committed to press freedom,” Adesina said.
“An amicable solution would be found to The Punch reporter matter. President Buhari does not intend to muzzle the media in any way”, he added.
However, as part of the face saving formular, Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, issued a security clearance for the recall of The Punch State House correspondent, Olalekan Adetayo.
Adetayo was sent packing over articles he wrote and published on Sunday bordering on President Muhammadu Buhari’s ill health, which did not go down well with the President’s aides.
In a terse statement late Monday night, Senior Media Aide, Garba Shehu, said “We just got a clearance from Mallam Lawal Daura, the DG SSS to recall Lekan to the Villa.”
Shehu told the Chairman of the State House Press Corps, Ubale Musa, to come to the Villa with Lekan Adetayo on Tuesday, saying “The Special Adviser on Media, Femi Adesina and I will resolve the issues. Lekan should be assured that he is safe, we will straighten out everything.”
The incident is coming barely one week after governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai ordered the arrest and detention of Mr Midat Joseph, the city Editor of Leadership newspapers in Kaduna.