Segun Olatunji: I Was Contracted To Write A False Story Against Gbajabiamila

Following the controversy generated by the manner of arrest of the online publisher of Firstnewsonline, Mr. Segun Olatunji by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) on Friday, March 15, 2024, more details have emerged on the incident, which many media unions have strongly condemned.

Mr. Olatunji had stated during an emergency press conference organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and International Press Institute (IPI, Nigeria) that his detention by the DIA was in relation to stories he published on the Head of DIA and another story on the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.

On January 29, 2024, Olatunji wrote a story titled, “How Gbajabiamila attempted to corner $30bn, 66 Houses Special Investigator traced to Sabiu.”

After the outburst of Olatunji at the press conference of the media unions, another sister online tabloid, Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), interviewed him on his experience in detention and re-published the Gbajabiamila story that might have put Olatunji in trouble.

More details linking the travails of Mr. Olatunji to the Gbajabiamila’s story have now emerged. Further investigation revealed that the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila wrote a letter to all security agencies to fish out the sponsors of defamatory publications against him for prosecution.

A copy of similar letter published by the media on 31st January, 2024, Mr. Gbajabiamila said: “over the past six months, unknown individuals or groups have made a sustained effort using social media to spread unfounded allegation of corruption, malfeasance, and abuse of office against my person. This campaign of calumny has gotten progressively more aggressive in tone and content over the last month, thus necessitating this letter”. 

A report sighted by our correspondent further revealed that the Defence Intelligence Agency relied on one of its powers “to execute any other tasks that may be assigned to it by higher superior authority in defence of the federal government or any of its agents,” in investigating Mr. Olatunji.

The report established the culpability of Mr. Olatunji Segun for cybercrime, including cyberbullying and cyber defamation of character of a government official.

“Olatunji in his written statement and audio confession claimed he was contracted to publish the Gbajabiamila story by one Mr. Rotimi Williams with phone number 08033207090, Mr. Olatunji and Mr. Rotimi Williams were formerly staff at the PUNCH, Olatunji said that Rotimi lives in Abuja and now a media consultant.

“Since December 2023, Mr. Rotimi Williams has been communicating with Mr. Olatunji regarding the allegations against the Chief of Staff. Rotimi claimed he had sources both in the presidency and in the special investigation team led by one Jim Obazee, which is investigating former P.A to President Buhari. On the 24th of January, 2024, Mr. Rotimi allegedly confirmed to Mr. Olatunji to go ahead and publish news about Gbajabiamila. Thereafter, on 29th January, 2024, Olatunji went ahead to publish the story “.

“Mr. Olatunji further confirmed Mr. Rotimi Williams paid him 170,000 Naira for his effort to publish the news and give stipends to other online publishers, which Olatunji allegedly confirmed he syndicated the story to: (Yinka), (Sulaimon Fasasi), (Daud Olatunji), (Earnest), (Abiodun Taiwo), (Michael Azeez), (Ayo Otitoju),”

The report further cites the written apology note by Mr. Segun Olatunji of Firstnewsonline wherein he was said to have apologised and sought forgiveness from the Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila for publishing the defaming story alleging that Gbajabiamila wanted to divert $30B.

He stated his regret for relying on the pressure to publish from Mr. Rotimi Williams, a media consultant who claimed to him that his sponsors are in the presidency and the Special Investigator, Obazee team. The efforts to get Mr. Rotimi Williams were said to have been unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, the online publisher, Mr. Segun Olatunji is said to be found culpable of infractions under the cyber crime Act. There are indications that the DIA might have shared its findings with sister security agencies for possible prosecution.

Recall that the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ, SERAP, International Press Institute and Media Right Agenda in a joint press statement issued on 22nd of April, 2024 confirmed that the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) requested a meeting with media organisations to clarify the incident that led to the detention of the online publisher, Mr. Segun Olatunji. 

The statement said, in part, “the military authorities said they acted to forestall a potential threat to national security and would have reported the National Media Complaints Commission – the National media ombudsman – if they had been aware of its existence. After considering this disposition towards the Ombudsman, the NPO, BON and the civil society partners have decided, after reviewing the outcome of the April 14 meeting, to refer the matter to the ombudsman for adjudication.”

The media ombudsman is saddled with the responsibility to investigate complaints of unethical practices against Nigerian media practitioners. Again, the media organisations condemned the militarisation of the civic space on civil issues that should be handled by civil authorities.

Discover more from MouthpieceNGR

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading