Bulletproof cars: National Pilot calls Abdulrazaq’s bluff, insists on story

By Ibraheem Solaudeen.

As reactions continue to trail the long-elapsed 24 hours ultimatum slammed on the National Pilot Newspaper by Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State, who demanded a retraction of a report published by the news media on October 24, 2019, which had alleged that the governor procured two bulletproof vehicles valued at N480m, the management of the newspaper has exonerated itself of any wrongdoing.

In its response to Governor Abdulrazaq’s legal threats, the National Pilot stated that its report was devoid of libelous or defamatory claims as it did not accuse the governor of any act of criminality, fraud or impropriety in acquisition of the vehicles.

It further noted that the story was not published with bad intent, adding that production was delayed in an effort to get the reaction of the governor’s spokesperson, Rafiu Ajakaye whose response and consequent denial of the allegation came at about midnight, hence, resulting in colossal loss in sales and revenue as the newspaper arrived late at the newsstands.

The National Pilot Newspaper also argued that the ultimatum-backed demand for retraction and apology as well as the governor’s threat of litigation was uncalled for.

Read the full response below:

“Kwara Governor’s Ultimatum: Our response.

On Friday, 25th, October, 2019, Mallam Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press
Secretary (CPS) to the Kwara State Governor, issued a statement
describing the lead story of Vol 30, No 38 of our publication, titled
“Gov Abdulrazaq allegedly acquires N480m 2 bullet-proof jeeps,” as
“fake news”.

It is unfortunate that the CPS devoted his rebuttal to discrediting
our sense of professionalism.

Contrary to his claim, our report was
never intended to malign the Governor.
We wish to state that as a responsible newspaper, we strictly followed the ethics of journalism in the report.

In line with the dictates of professionalism, the Governor’s spokesperson, Mallam Ajakaye was contacted for his reaction on the allegation and he obliged our report with response, dismissing the allegation as untrue, which was published as well as given prominence on the cover of the
said publication.

Owing to the fact that the report was notill-conceived or published with bad intent, production of the report
was delayed because the reaction of the Governor’s media handler did not come until midnight, a development which led to our newspaper getting to the newsstands late (8:45am) and with consequential colossal loss in sales and revenue.

The report, we vehemently state is an allegation and not assertion. It
is neither libelious nor defamatory because we did not accuse the
Governor of any act of criminality, fraud or inappropriety in acquisition of the vehicles. We want to reiterate that the Governor has the right to buy vehicle(s) for private or official use. More so,
bullet proof in view of the state of insecurity in the country.

In any case, his predecessors also purchased cars for use when they got
into office, so also other state governors across the country.

All we reported was an allegation, that he acquired vehicles, which we believe will be of interest to the public. As a top public officeholder, his actions and activities are subject to public scrutiny and interest.

The motivation for the report was purely hinged on public interest. Allegations like this will continue to come up
and when they do, it is our duty to give the other party opportunity to respond, this we have done in the handling of the story.

This has been underscored by reactions of readers and seasoned journalists who
have continued to commend our sense of professionalism in handling
this story.

We strongly believe that the report does not warrant any kind of
threat to us from the Governor, so is the ultimatum-backed demand for
retraction and apology.

At National Pilot, we strongly believe that a newspaper is held in public trust, consequently, we have remained
constantly non partisan and do not pander to sentiments. We have been
going about our job and mandate with high sense of professionalism and
responsibility.

In this light, we say boldly that National Pilot has nothing against the Kwara State Government or Governor Abdulrazaq.

For us, Kwara comes first and therefore we put public interest over
and above every other sentiment. As watchdogs of the society, we
recognise our responsibility to put to task public office holders and
also put them on their toes for better governance.

We do this irrespective of whosoever is in power, as such making government
accountable to the citizens. This much, we demonstrated even during
the era of the immediate past administration.

As a newspaper, we are accountable to our readers and Kwarans in general. So also, we are conscientious in the discharge of our responsibilities at all times being a credible news medium.

In our show of non partisanship, we have on several occasions published stories and photographs about activities of the Gov. Abdulrazaq’s administration.

However, the ultimatum issued to the newspaper by the Governor’s aide
is uncalled for. Mallam Ajakaye as a professional should have rather
written a rejoinder stating the other side of the story as against his threat of legal action”.

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