WE read with dismay your report with the above headline written by one Ola Ajayi and published in the Vanguard newspaper on Wednesday, November 18, 2015. We are constrained to say that the report was false and an abuse of the power of the media. By publishing this tale from your reporter, you have lent credence to the general feeling among the public that stories published in our newspapers are false because.

As a journalist and a former title editor, I am beginning to wonder if the old Journalism maxim that facts are sacred and comments free is no longer the guiding principle of our noble profession. The photographer in question was not rough-handled by any CAC Pastors or by anybody in the court that day. If that was so, I believe the matter should have been reported to the police and the story should have been taken from police angle. But your reporter felt that he would show the church the power he wielded as a reporter. He never suffered any trauma and can never prove the mischievous insinuation that he received treatment for the beating he received, in any hospital.

What actually happened was that your photographer, like every reporter in the court on November 12, 2015, was allegedly mobilized by a faction of the church, to report what they thought would be a “sensational” confession to be made by a former president of the Church who had turned coat to the opposing side, after four years in retirement. The faction that allegedly mobilized the coverage by these reporters thought the “sensational confession” would give them advantage in a case that was already concluded and an appeal pending in the appeal court.

Hearing of  the appeal

For your information, the parties were in court only to get a stay of proceedings pending the hearing of the appeal. But the faction that brought the reporters thought they would be able to prefer fresh charges against the accused at the Federal High Court and re-arraign them, after which they would call the former president to give his sensational “evidence” in the court for the prosecution. Unfortunately for the reporters, the former president of the church was not in court. Also the defendants’ lawyers opposed the attempt by the prosecution to re-arraign the accused. So, the matter was adjourned.

While other newspapers did not see the need to send photographers to the court, your state editor, dispatched a reporter and photographer. But the photographer, Dare Fasube, who thought the “confession” of the former president had been made inside the courtroom, was busy outside taking photographs of the accused persons as they were moving out of the court. He had taken photographs of one of the accused as he came out. But the second one protested  that he didn’t want his photograph taken and the pastors around moved to the front of the second accused person to cover his face. They were standing in a distance of not less than 18 feet away from the photographer and his camera.

When your photographer re-positioned himself and tried to re-focus his lenses to capture the accused, the pastors covering him stretched their hands up to further block the lenses of the camera, until the accused person entered his car. That was all that happened. At a point, your photographer put down his camera and was daring the pastors to come and destroy it if they were men enough, but the pastors ignored him.

Kind of solidarity

You should have asked the reporter whether your media house was the only one in the court that day. There were at least, nine reporters from various newspapers and radio. You know the kind of solidarity among our journalists, if indeed; your reporter was man-handled by our pastors, why was the case reported only in Daily Newswatch, (a paper whose reporter had a petition hanging on him from his past reports on the case) and later in Vanguard newspaper? Why didn’t other newspapers solidarise with him by publishing it? The truth is that other journalists in the court that day couldn’t file the story because they knew that the incident was not newsworthy.

In this particular incident, your reporter has deceived you. Apart from the fact that the report was false, why didn’t a news editor deem it fit to get the other side of the story before using it? Or are you telling us that because the matter involved your reporter, the rule of balancing can be ignored?

The reputation of Vanguard newspapers has been built over several years by various professionals including my humble self. I am proud to have been the newspaper’s Chief Sub-Editor under its first Editor, Mr. Muyiwa Adetiba and I know the value Uncle Sam and other editors placed on sacredness of facts. You must not allow any venal reporter to erode this reputation with this type of false report.

We demand a retraction of the story in its entirety. We also demand an unreserved apology for the false public tion, which has not only caused us untold embarrassment but has tarnished the image of the Church in the opinion of right thinking members of the public.

  • Pastor Ade Alawode

Director of Publicity, CAC Worldwide.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.