The Presidency has dragged former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida, Olusegun Obasanjo and the Director-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hamid Ali (retd) the controversial change of President Muhammadu Buhari’s title by Punch Newspapers.
In a notice titled “Buhari’s lawlessness: Our Stand”, the Punch, on Wednesday, stated that it will “henceforth prefix Buhari’s name with his rank as a military dictator in the 80s ‘Major General’ and refer to his administration as a regime until they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law.
The newspaper made the decision while making reference to DSS non-complaince to court orders on trial of Omoyele Sowore, publisher of SaharaReporters; invasion of courtroom and trial of Shiites’ leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky amongst others.
Punch said its decision shows its protest against autocracy and military-style repression under Buhari’s administration.
In a statement to DAILY POST on Wednesday, signed by Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s Spokesman, the Presidency, however, claimed that Punch was being partisan, adding that it “never changed President Olusegun Obasanjo’s title from the President to General Obasanjo, despite the latter’s refusal to comply with Supreme Court judgment, ordering him to release N30 billion of Lagos State local councils funds.”
It also wondered why the newspaper did not challenge General Babaginda when he assumed the title of President even when he was not democratically elected.
The statement added, “The Punch never changed President Olusegun Obasanjo’s title from the President to General Obasanjo, despite the latter’s refusal to comply with Supreme Court judgment, ordering him to release N30 billion of Lagos State local councils funds.
“When General Ibrahim Babangida who wasn’t democratically elected assumed the title of President, why didn’t the Punch challenge him or address him by any title it so desired?
“In fact, IBB closed media houses for several months and years, including Punch.
“But the paper didn’t stop addressing him as President, despite the fact that he wasn’t elected.
“It is obvious that the Punch newspapers are playing partisan opposition politics which has nothing to do with journalism.
“Is it within the paper’s responsibility or power to change the official title of the man who occupies the office of the President? Does that mean any newspaper is free to address the Comptroller General of Customs a Colonel rather than his official title?
“The Punch newspaper should separate journalism from partisan politics. What it is embarking upon is purely political and it is designed to play to the gallery and cause confusion.
“Punch Newspaper’s double standards in cuddling some of our past dictators and their open contempt for President Buhari clearly show that the paper has sinister motives for its current curious editorial judgment. Its personal hatred for and animus towards President Buhari should not be allowed to becloud its good judgment.”