The investigative hearing on media reports of alleged youths’ attack on Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, in his constituency, was on Monday stalled by absence of ThisDay and Punch Newspapers representatives.
The two newspapers were expected to appear at the probe being conducted on the incident by the Senate Joint Committee on Ethics and Privileges and Media and Public Affairs.
The Senate Leader had on a Point-of-Order on May 23, drawn attention to a report by ThisDay Newspaper entitled “Senate Majority Leader prevented by angry youths from entering his constituency”.
He had also cited a similar headline by Punch Online of the same day entitled: “Youths accuse Senate Leader of neglect, bar him from working”.
Chairman of the Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Sen. Sam Anyanwu, who decried the alleged report by the two media organisations, said “this has to stop.”
“This has to do with somebody’s integrity; the man has built his political career for 18 years. If we find evidence that it was fake news, we will not be happy about it.
“We and the press are partners in this project, Nigeria.
“ThisDay and Punch are not here; we are not concluding. We had invited them, we have evidence that they were duly served and acknowledged receipt of the letter.
“We will give them time to appear before the committee,” Anyanwu said.
On his part, Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Sen. Sabi Abdullahi, said it was unfortunate that the two media outfits were absent at the hearing.
“It is unfortunate because the media are given a constitutional responsibility and a duty. Anytime they are questioned with regards to how they discharge their duty, it is only logical that they oblige to that.
“It is appropriate for every player in this democratic space to carry out its own responsibility in line with the rules of engagement which will invariably deepen our democracy,” he said.
In his submission, the complainant, Sen. Lawan, said that what he was asking from the two organisations was immediate retraction, which had not been done.
“I also demanded for an unreserved public apology to me and my constituents. That did not happen as far as I know.
“The point is, I want a relationship that is cordial, devoid of fake information, poor reportage and unethical conduct.
“I am seeking redress; my reputation and that of my constituents have been dragged to the mud,” he said.
The committee, thereafter, ordered that the media organisations should appear before it on Wednesday.