Says …”You and your backers will be put to shame”

The Editorial column of The PUNCH newspaper of last Wednesday has been described as a disgraceful hatchet job, a horrific disgrace to the tenets of journalism and a shameful display of crass partisanship.

The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), in its reaction to the editorial opinion, accused the PUNCH of conducts unbecoming of a national newspaper the way it twisted facts on the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption crusade in the Editorial titled:  Anti-graft war, Clean up the mess, Buhari.

In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO said the Editorial also reflected a high degree of contradictions and inconsistencies that have left the newspaper’s readers confused.

“The latest effort by the PUNCH to degrade the Buhari administration, this time on the basis of the ongoing investigation of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Ibrahim Magu, is unfortunate.

“Its description of the probe as a ‘coup’ by ‘hawks’ in the administration is a misnomer at a time that investigation has just started, and with no proof of its assertion other than mere conjectures.

“We wonder how a media house that likes to present itself as a credible voice for good governance would be so blinded by its avowed bitterness against the President to not see the big picture.

“How could a news outlet claim that ‘something has gone fatally wrong with Buhari’s serial avowals to fight corruption’, and yet see an investigation into allegations of corruption and insubordination against the head of an anti-graft agency as a witchhunt?

“Ironically, this Editorial was published on the same day newspapers, including the PUNCH itself, quoted a Presidency official as saying that the ongoing probe of Ibrahim Magu will provide him with an opportunity to respond to allegations levelled against him.

“Would the newspaper have preferred the President to ignore allegations by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Abubakar Malami which it admits were not different from what the 8th Senate used as a reason to deny Magu of confirmation as substantive EFCC chairman in 2016?

“We do not see anything wrong with the ongoing Administrative probe and believe that the Buhari administration is magnanimous to allow the  Ag. EFCC chairman to defend himself before a panel headed by a respected jurist.

“We wonder what is untoward about inviting him to appear before a panel to clear his name,” it queried.

BMO also pointed out that the Editorial was filled with inconsistencies which showed the sacrilegious intentions of the news outlet.

“Here is a newspaper which famously declared in December 2019 that it would henceforth use the President’s military rank to describe him, as well as refer to his administration as a ‘regime’ to show that he is a full-blown dictator.

“But less than six months after that declaration, it is painting a picture of ‘weak’ President who has surrendered his powers to a tiny cabal. So is the President a dictator and a weak leader at the same time?

“We also noticed that in one breath, PUNCH gave the impression of a power bloc bent on stopping Magu from heading the anti-graft agency, but also outlined how the President left him in office for five years.
“Does this not imply Presidential support for his retention in office? How could a group of people be this confused?

“So the question is, whose interest is Punch defending in the Editorial? That of Nigerians or their fancy for Magu? A newspaper is expected to be professional in matters of this nature and besides, it cannot accuse the President of not following due process or not supporting the EFCC chair over the years.

“We make bold to predict that the outcome of the investigation will put the newspaper and its paymasters to the greatest shame of their lives, judging by the deluge of facts that are pouring in before the Justice Salami panel.

” Let us also add that If Magu and his backers, including the PUNCH, have betrayed the trust of the nation, they will pay a very dear price.

“Our final piece of advice for PUNCH editors is that they should concentrate on running a profitable newspaper where the rights of the workers are respected and corporate governance institutionalised, rather than dabble into areas manifestly beyond their paygrade”

The group added that the President remains committed to the twin principles of transparency and accountability, and urged Nigerians to disregard the newspaper’s bid to discredit the war against corruption