The Punch Newspaper has apologized over a publication which was authored by it’s reporter, Mr Aviashima Toom published in the July 3rd edition of the paper on page 8.
The report, in addition to alleging plans by the Benue State House of Assembly to impeach the Deputy Governor, Engr Benson Abounu, falsely stated that the Deputy Governor’s son Dr Abounu Abounu, a Consultant Physician based in the UK had petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over a multi-million Naira contract scam rocking the state Assembly.
In a letter made available to Benue.com.ng, the editor of Sunday PUNCH, Mr Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye described the publication as “false and without basis” saying the reporter failed to supply evidence to back up the report. He therefore tendered an unreserved apology on behalf of the newspaper.
“I would like to tender unreserved apologies, on behalf of PUNCH and my team, and to assure you that the publication was not driven by malice or meant to disparage your person…
“I hope you would believe that it is not in the character of PUNCH to publish false stories, or to malign hardworking and respectable members of the society, such as your good self. ” It read.
Mr Ogunseye also disclosed that the management had decided to remove the said publication from their official website and have taken punitive measures against the reporter which included sacking.
“This publication is an embarrassing aberration. Consequently, we have taken remedial steps to forestall the recurrence of such an unfortunate incident and taken punitive measures against the staff responsible. We have also removed the story from our website.” the letter read in part.
Recalled that Opiatoha K’idoma, a sociocultural organisation paid a solidaritory visit to the Deputy Governor, Engr Benson Abounu recently where they fingered Deputy Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Hon James Okefe and former Minister of the Niger Delta, Chief Sam Odeh as the masterminders of a plot to smear the Deputy Governor with a view of setting the stage for his removal.
Speaking to Benue.com.ng at his residence in Otukpo, a leader of Opiatoha K’Idoma under conditions of anonymity said the apology by PUNCH Newspaper had vindicated the organisation.
He said they had received criticism from some quarters over thier visit but further evidence that they were right is that rumours about the involvement of the Deputy Governor and his son in the state assembly saga ceased the moment the plans of Chief Sam Odeh and Hon James Okefe were exposed.
“God has exposed them. Okefe is now going around telling people he didn’t have the intention to falsely implicate the Deputy Governor but was pressurized to do it. Can you imagine! ” the elder said.
He called on sons and daughters of Idomaland to support Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration in order to benefit from the dividends of democracy under the All Progressives Congress, APC.