â€¢ Describes expulsion of Punch reporter as oppressive
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hasÂ asked the presidency not to unnecessarily shield President Muhammadu Buhari from his country men on account of his poor health.
The opposition party which felt irked by the last Mondayâ€™s expulsion of the Punch Newspaper reporter in the State House by the presidentâ€™s Chief Security Officer (CSO), Abubakar Bashir, described such move as dictatorial.
In a statement issued yesterday by the spokesman of the PDP caretaker committee, Dayo Adeyeye, the party said no one has the right to deny Nigerians access to President Buhari while dishing out orders on his behalf.
â€œFor the upteenth time, we want to re-iterate that Nigerians deserve to know the health condition of their president. No one has the right or power to hide the president behind the curtain while dishing out instructions to Nigerians in the name of the president,â€ the party said.
However, the party said: â€œIt wishes the president a speedy recovery and pray that the Lord Almighty will grant all that is required for him to fulfill his responsibilities to our dear country.â€
On the expulsion of a journalist working with The Punch Newspaper, Lekan Adetayo, by Buhariâ€™s CSO, the PDP said the action did not come to it as a surprise given that the nation is gradually tilting towards full blown dictatorship.
It said the media as the fourth estate of the realm is an important pillar of any democracy, adding that any attempt to gag the press in whatever guise is an abridgment of the rights of the people and a direct assault on our hard earned democracy.
â€˜Yesterday, April 24, 2017, we received the news of the expulsion of Olalekan Adetayo, the Punch Newspaper reporter and Chairman of Press Corps at the Presidential Villa, by Bashir, the CSO to President Buhari ,but it did not come to us, as a surprise given that the Nation is gradually tilting towards full blown dictatorship. Adetayoâ€™s offence we heard, was his report by the weekend titled: â€˜Fresh anxiety at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa over Buhariâ€™s health.â€™â€
According to the party, â€œThe PDP acknowledges Mr. Presidentâ€™s health challenges; and as a human being and an elder statesman, we quite understand the need for him to have adequate rest and continuous medical attention. We are therefore not too surprised that the President has not in recent times been able to fully face the rigours of government and has to make very rare public appearances.
â€œThis is pretty obvious to all Nigerians. The Punch story is therefore nothing extraordinary. It merely reflects what Nigerians already know with perhaps a little bit of speculative licence. It therefore should not have elicited the extreme reaction from the presidentâ€™s CSO.
â€œThe media as the fourth estate of the realm is an important pillar of any democracy. Any attempt to gag the press in whatever guise is an abridgment of the rights of the people and a direct assault on our hard earned democracy. We therefore totally condemn the action of the Presidentâ€™s CSO.
â€œHe must realise that we are in a democracy and not military dictatorship. It is also revealing and shows the lack of synergy in the Villa that a reporter will be expelled without the knowledge or concurrence of the presidentâ€™s adviser on media relations.â€