The General Editor of the online newspaper First News, Segun Olatunji, has resigned following a controversy surrounding a story published on the platform on January 29, 2024. The news platform’s management has also issued an apology to Femi Gbajabiamila, President Bola Tinubu’s chief of staff, over the article.

Olatunji’s article, titled “How Gbajabiamila Attempted to Corner $30bn, 66 Houses Traced to Sabiu,” led to his arrest and detention in an underground cell by the Defence Intelligence Agency. This action sparked condemnation from the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, and International Press Institute, ultimately resulting in his release.

The publisher of First News, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, stated that the case had been settled out of court, after which he issued a public apology to Gbajabiamila. The management of the news platform acknowledged that the story contained “falsehoods and fabricated stories handed out to us as facts by a misleading source,” leading to their apology to the Chief of Staff to the President.

In response to the management’s stance and the settlement of the case, Olatunji swiftly resigned as the General Editor. In his resignation letter, he emphasized that the truth about the matter would be revealed in due course. Olatunji thanked the management for the opportunity to serve as the editor for the past four years and requested the settlement of his one-year outstanding salaries.

The controversy surrounding Olatunji’s article took a personal turn when he was abducted from his home in the Iyana Odo, Abule Egba area of Lagos State in March. His wife, Abiodun Olatunji, recounted that armed men numbering 10 arrived at their residence and took her husband away without leaving any information behind. She described how they seized his phone and bundled him into a van before driving off.

The incident has raised concerns about press freedom and the safety of journalists in Nigeria, prompting discussions about the responsibilities of media organizations in verifying information and ensuring accuracy in their reporting.

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