Newly appointed Special Assistant on Media to Okechukwu Enelamah, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi has threatened the publishers of SIGNAL online newspaper for publishing a report, which identified him as the alleged co-author of The Economist article that described Nigeria’s former president Goodluck Jonathan as an “ineffectual buffoon.”
In a letter dated February 3, 2016 and signed by Mr. Ogunlesi, he asked for an apology and retraction claiming the report defamed him. Failure to give an apology within 72 hours, he said will result in legal action against the newspaper.
But in a reaction, the Editorial Board of SIGNAL described the claims of defamation by Mr. Ogunlesi as surprising especially as Mr. Ogunlesi personally declared in his Twitter page on January 30, 2016 how he felt so flattered to be associated with The Economist.
SIGNAL said that the report on Mr. Ogunlesi does not have a defamatory import and was not intended to defame or malign him.
“We wish to state clearly that the article in its entirety has no defamatory meaning and was not intended to defame Mr. Ogunlesi. The letter from Mr. Ogunlesi claiming he was defamed is coming as a surprise especially as he personally declared on his Twitter handle on January 30, 2016 that he felt flattered being associated with The Economist. In a similar vein, a comment posted in reaction to the article said the article was a plus for Mr. Ogunlesi as it had made him even more popular portraying him as a writer with international connections”, the newspaper said.
Publisher of SIGNAL, Mr. Ohimai Amaize said on Wednesday that SIGNAL will not be gagged or intimidated by government employees seeking to place limitations on the rights to free press. “We will continue in the age long responsibility of the media which is to inform, educate and enlighten society following the principles of truth and fairness”, he said.