On April 24, 2017, The Punch newspapers State House Correspondent, Mr. Olalekan Adetayo, was expelled from the Presidential Villa in Abuja byMr. Bashir Abubakar the Chief Security Officer to President Muhammadu Buhari, for publishing reports described as ‘uncomplimentary’ to President Buhari and his administration. He was however recalled less than 24 hours after the expulsion.
The Chief Security Officer had earlier invited Olalekan to his office where he questioned the journalist on the motive behind two reports published by The Punch newspapers: ‘Seat of power’s event centres going into extinction’ published on April 22 and ‘Fresh anxiety in Aso Rock over Buhari’s poor health’ published on April 23, 2017 both of which the officer considers uncomplimentary to the President.
Abubakar thereafter asked one of his men to go and take Olalekan’s statement and revert to him after which he directed the Officer-in-Charge, Department of State Services, Victor Nwafor, to withdraw Olalekan’s accreditation tag and lead him out of the premises after he retrieves his personal belongings from the Press Gallery of the Council Chambers.
After carrying out Abubakars, orders, Nwafor left instruction at the Admin Reception that Olalekan should no longer be allowed into the premises. He then handed the journalist to another security operative, who led him to where his car was parked to ensure he left the premises as instructed.
Mr. Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, dissociated the President’s media team from the development, saying it was not consulted and expressed the commitment of President Buhari not to temper with press freedom.
Adesina said, in a message on his Twitter handle: “We weren’t consulted in the media office by the CSO before he expelled The PUNCH reporter. President Buhari is committed to press freedom.”
He added: “An amicable solution would be found to The PUNCH reporter’s matter. President Buhari does not intend to muzzle the media in any way.”
Later in the day, Mr. Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity sent an email to Ubale Musa, chairman of the State House Press Corps, saying: “We just got a clearance from Malam Lawal Daura, the DG SSS to recall Lekan to the Villa.”
“Please come along with him tomorrow. The Special Adviser on Media, Femi Adesina and I will resolve the issues”.