The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned in very strong terms, the expulsion of Mr. Olalekan Adetayo, the State House correspondent of The Punch Newspapers from Aso Rock by Bashir Abubakar, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Adetayo was expelled on April 24, 2017 by Abubakar but has since been recalled. The guild in a statement by its President, Mrs Funke Egbemode, said while it acknowledged the recall of Adetayo to the State House, it â€œhereby registers its displeasure at the manner he was treated and the circumstances of his expulsion.â€
The guild considered the action of the CSO a clear affront on the media and an attempt to muzzle it from discharging its constitutional duty of being a vehicle for the dissemination of information.
While it noted that the CSO might have acted outside his brief and not on the orders or prompting of President Buhari as was explained by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the guild demanded an unreserved apology from the CSO toÂ Adetayo and The Punch Newspapers.
â€œAs a deterrence to others, the guild urges Mr. President to discipline the CSO for over-reaching himself and acting in a manner intended to gag free speech.
â€œThe guild urges the presidency to take steps to ensure that such disrespectful treatment of any journalist covering the State House or any other beat in the country by security operatives does not happen again.
The guild notes that the media has been a strategic partner of the Nigerian government and a pathfinder in the building and sustenance of democracy and that on no account should the media and its professionals be subjected to harassment and humiliation in a manner that tends to undermine their ability to discharge their duties in the public interest.
â€œThe treatment meted out to Adetayo runs contrary to the tenets of freedom of expression as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peopleâ€™s Rights.â€
It noted that the Nigerian media has made tremendous sacrifice in the fight for the birthing of democracy in the country,Â and â€œis making even greater sacrifice in its sustenance and it will not be cowered now or in the future.â€