The Nigerian Tribune, has sacked one of its senior reporters, Olakunle Timothy Taiwo, for concocting an interview with Itse Sagay, a constitutional lawyer and scholar, SaharaReporters reports.
According to the report, the paper’s Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief, Edward Dickson, confirmed Mr. Taiwo’s sack in a response to a text asking him to confirm the authenticity of information that the paper was about to issue an apology to Mr. Sagay and to formally retract the report based on a non-existent interview with the legal scholar.
Taiwo had reported in the paper’s online edition that Mr. Sagay berated President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war. But in an interview with SaharaReporters on Sunday, Mr. Sagay, who chairs President Buhari’s advisory team on anti-corruption, denied that he granted any interview to the reporter or the Tribune. He also challenged the reporter and newspaper to provide proof that he spoke to them.
Reports also has it that an editor had also been fired over the same scandal.
Newspeakonline has been trying to speak with Taiwo on phone but he is yet to pick his calls.
Below is a statement by The Tribune management:
The Sunday Tribune published an interview in its December 20, 2015 edition with the headline: “Buhari not sincere with corruption fight–Sagay.” A lot of issues have since cropped up on that interview with the supposed interviewee disclaiming it through an online medium. We have done a preliminary in-house investigation into how the interview was conducted and on what could have gone wrong with it.
The fact of the matter is that the interview was conducted through telephone by one of our politics reporters on Thursday, December, 17th 2015 calling the interviewee on TELEPHONE NUMBER 08023137144. The normal introductory formalities, according to the reporter, were observed before the interview commenced. In the course of the interview, the person on the other side answered all questions even when he was addressed as the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption.
Online reports quoting Professor Sagay as denying granting the interview were, therefore, received by us with a shock. We consequently listened to the audio recording of the interview and, regrettably, discovered the voice not to be that of Professor Sagay.
While we are continuing our investigations on who the person on the other line actually was and what could have gone wrong along our own line of editorial control, a number of disciplinary actions has been taken against our key members of staff involved in the publication. Specifically, the reporter has been dismissed from the employ of the company and the Editor, Sunday Tribune, placed on indefinite suspension.
We have no reason whatsoever to put words in the mouth of the respected Professor Sagay. We apologise to him. We equally apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari and all other persons who were variously attacked in the publication. Our apologies also go to our esteemed readers. There was no deliberate action on our part to mislead our readers. We have an enviable pedigree and a long history of pioneering, in this country, a brand of journalism that upholds the truth as inviolable at all times. We have an institutional rigorous process in place that hitherto ensured this kind of unfortunate slip never took place. How this happened, escaping the control system, is part of issues we are addressing. We are taking a firm, corrective look at that mechanism again.
Once again, we promise our readers that this unfortunate incident will not happen again in our operations even as we retract the interview in its entirety.