Lekan Adetayo, the Punch reporter at the heart of the latest State House expulsion controversy, has explained why he apologised to President Buhari’s Chief Security Officer.
Mr. Adetayo said he apologised to Bashir Abubakar in order to be able to “leave” the latter’s office “not only alive but with a sound mind.”
Mr. Abubakar had said Mr. Adetayo apologised when he summoned him on Monday to his office in the State House on allegations of inaccurate reporting and ethical misconduct.
After the security chief took Mr. Adetayo’s statement, an instruction was issued to security personnel in the Presidential Villa to march the reporter out of the premises, having withdrawn his accreditation.
Specifically, Mr. Abubakar raised allegations of inaccurate reporting against Mr. Adetayo, saying in an internal memo published by Premium Times that the reporter’s activities betrayed his “desperation to satisfy some subterranean interests.”
The security chief said the reporter filed a story about Mr. Buhari’s ill-health and another about how facilities in the State House were rarely used.
But Mr. Adetayo dismissed the allegations as “baseless”.
“When people do not like a particular report, they come up with allegations that you have a sponsor,” Mr. Adetayo said in an interview published Friday. “I can say it with all humility that I did those pieces, just in the line of duty and with no ulterior motive.”
In his memo, Mr. Abubakar disclosed that Mr. Adetayo denied authorship of one of the stories in contention, apologised for his ‘grievous’ mistakes and pleaded for leniency.
Ubale Musa, chairman of the State House Press Corps, present during the exchanges between Messrs. Abubakar and Adetayo, told Premium Times the reporter apologised.
Mr. Ubale, however, said he was unsure if his colleague denied involvement in one of the stories.
In his interview, Mr. Adetayo admitted he apologised, but suggested that it was because he felt his life was in danger.
“I needed to leave that place, and alive to tell my story,” Mr. Adetayo said. “At a point, he even threatened, saying, ‘If you don’t answer some of the questions I will raise now, you will not go home today.’”
“I begged him,” he added. “Not that I said that the story I wrote was wrong, but for me to get a leverage to leave that place.”
“And it worked.”
But the reporter later said that he didn’t apologise in his written statement to security officers.
“You must have read in his memo that I did not put any apology inside the statement I wrote.
“I wrote in my statement that I did not have any ulterior motive in writing those two pieces,” Mr. Adetayo said.
He added that his refusal to apologise in his written statement might have angered Mr. Abubakar to order his expulsion from the Villa.
Mr. Abubakar, the CSO, could not be reached for comments about Mr. Adetayo’s allegations Friday evening.