The Ondo State government has clarified the report that it expelled journalists from the Governor's office.
SaharaReporters had reported on Monday that the state government expelled some journalists — from Channels Television, the African Independent Television (AIT), Raypower and Core Television.
However, a statement by Yemi Olowolabi, Ondo Commissioner for Information and Orientation, on Tuesday, noted that the state government only "rid the place of impostors and parasites parading themselves as professional journalists" when they had in fact "turned the newsroom in the Governor's office to beer parlour, gambling station and blackmailers hideout".
The statement read: "In the last 24 hours, the online platforms have been awash in trenchant criticisms of the Ondo State Government over the purported expulsion of some journalists from the Ondo State Government House Press Crew. This is nothing but deliberate mischief sponsored by some meddlesome interlopers and their hirelings who were screened out of the Governor's press corps.
"For the record, we have not expelled any journalist from the Governor's office. What we did was to rid the place of impostors and parasites parading themselves as professional journalists.
The standard practice in Government House Press coverage is to accredit journalists who cover the beat. And no duly accredited Government House reporter has been barred from covering the daily activities of the governor. I challenge any duly accredited reporter who has been expelled to come out and say so.
"Truth is irrepressible. No amount of blackmail can destroy it. Neither can it be submerged by the syndicated falsehood. What really happened at the Government House Press crew?
My office was inundated with serial complaints about professional misconduct by some 'journalists' who turned the newsroom in the Governor's office to beer parlour, gambling station and blackmailers hideout. Some of these complaints were investigated and were found out to be true. In fact, I have received complaints from some important guests who were made to pay for interviews and news items that were never used on any channel.
"Also, most of the whimsical stories trending on the social media are anchored on the purported sack of AIT and Channels TV's reporters from the Government House. Again, there is a procedure that guides the engagement and disengagement of reporters from all the broadcast stations that are working with us. Duly signed official letters are usually sent to the broadcast stations headquarters to convey our intentions to their managements. Our last official communication with the stations was in April 2017.
"Another twist to this fairy tale is the reckless innuendo that we sacked some reporters from the Government House because they were writing negative stories. This is a preposterous account bereft of logic and rationalisation. For instance, in the last one year, the Channels TV's reporters here have not filed a single story on the activities of the Governor, either positive or negative. I challenge them to contradict this position. Yet the 'journalists' stay in the Governor's office from morning to night every day. Doing what?
"This was the simple question we asked. Their answer is the syndicated blackmail designed to frustrate the sanitisation of the Government House Press Crew which is in utter danger of vulgarisation.
Undoubtedly, however, our Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, remains committed to a free, vibrant and independent press as his entire career has always been in pursuit of truth, justice and equity."