Olalekan Adetayo, the Punch Newspaper correspondent assigned to Aso Rock has been expelled and barred from covering the Presidential Villa after his newspaper published a report on Sunday, April 23, 2017 titled, Fresh Anxiety At Aso Rock Presidential Villa Over Buhari’s Health.
This undemocratic order given by President Buhari was carried out on Monday, April 24, 2017 by the chief security officer, CSO, to the president, Bashir Abubakar.
Mr. Adetayo’s press tag was seized before he was driven out of the precinct of the State House and ordered “never to return”, a source with intimate knowledge of the situation told The Trent.
The journalist was summoned to the office of the president’s chief security officer early afternoon of Monday and interrogated by Abubakar for some hours.
Two weeks ago, the CSO to the president held a meeting with State House correspondents where he handed them a set of new guidelines on how to report on the activities in Aso Rock.
In January 2017, the same security officer had summoned two news reporters covering Aso Rock over a factual report on an accidental discharge that injured a female worker at the presidency.
President Buhari has been suffering from a protracted illness and just recently returned from an extended medical leave in England. For the past two weeks, his public appearances have been limited fueling speculations that his health has taken a turn for the worse.
This latest attack on press freedom by President Buhari follows a long trail of dictatorial actions by his regime aimed at silencing the opposition and manipulating the press.
As president elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator whose regime in the 80s was marked by a brutal clampdown on press freedoms and human rights abuses, barred a reporter of AIT, a television station, from covering him at the Defence House over advertorials aired by the station during the 2015 presidential campaigns.
In September 2015, The Trent became the first newspaper to warn Nigerians and the international community on the despotism of the Buhari regime after our Executive Editor, Ms. Aziza Uko received an open threat from the Presidency. “The episode was just one more, in a series of bullying, and threats of arrest targeted at our journalists and Ms. Uko from minions of the government and Nigeria’s Secret Police,” our Editorial Board published in an editorial.
Since then, there has been a steady increase in attacks, arrests, and kangaroo charges against journalists, activists, and citizens by agents of the Buhari regime all of which are aimed at suppressing press and individual freedoms.