Sun newspaper has explained why it published the death advert on the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari during the electoral campaign.
The advert of Governor Ayo Fayose was released because of Orji Uzor Kalu, the newspaper’s owner, who is founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Premium times reports.
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Femi Adesina, The Sun’s Editor-in-Chief, speaking during this year’s World Press Freedom Day in Lagos, said: ''I cannot speak for The Punch, but I know why The Sun ran it. Money was secondary consideration. It was a decision I took consciously as Managing Director and Editor in Chief''.
''That hate advert, two newspapers published it, The Sun and The Punch,” Mr. Adesina began, speaking on the topic ‘Influence of Media Owners on Fair and Balanced Reporting and Commentaries in 2015 Election.’
“Now you can ask me: why did we publish? That advert came on a Sunday, January 18th, and we published it on January 19th. The advert that was eventually published had been watered down considerably. I came back from church, I opened my system and when I saw it I screamed.
“It had been sent to me from the office to clear for publication. When I saw it I screamed. I then called Bolaji Tunji, our Executive Director, Special Services, ‘Can we publish this and Nigeria will not burn?’ Then we began to discuss and we began to tone it down. We removed so many things from that advert. And what eventually appeared on January 19th was the toned-down version.
“So if we had published the original…. So it was the toned-down version that I approved that they eventually sent to The Punch that appeared the next day.”
The editor said that he is broadly known as an “APC man” while he does not stay in the party, and that denying the advert would have expected trouble from Orji Uzor Kalu.
He said: “If I had rejected that advert, they would have told my publisher that this APC man has denied your paper revenue. He has rejected this advert because he doesn’t like Jonathan.
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“So, after we watered it down, we decided to take it. Punch also took it. But we know the uproar that still came after it. But I tell you, if you see the original of that advert, you would still then have to commend the media.
“So ownership will always matter where press freedom is concerned. There is no freedom without boundaries and the owners will always constitute the boundary.”
The governor of Ekiti state published the advertisement Punch and Sun newspapers showing Nigeria’s past leaders comprising Late Gen. Sani Abacha, Murtala Muhammed, former President Musa Yar’Adua and the photograph of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari with a question mark on his image.
It is considered that the advert campaign was a delicate indirect attack on Buhari’s health.
Fayose is well-known for his attacks on the president-elect during the electoral campaign.