Below is a statement by the Tribune newspaper, apologising over an interview published in its Sunday December 20 edition which has now been discovered to have been a hoax.
The interview with the headline: “Buhari not sincere with corruption fight–Sagay” was supposedly conducted with Prof. Itse Sagay, but the professor has now denied that he ever granted such an interview which disparaged Pres. Muhammadu Buhari and the anti-corruption fight.
The paper has fired the senior reporter, Olakunle Timothy Taiwo (pictured above) behind the false interview.
Read statement below:
Sunday Tribune published an interview in its December 20, 2015 edition with the headline: “Buhari not sincere with corruption fight–Sagay.” A lot of issues have since cropped up on that interview with the supposed interviewee disclaiming it through an online medium. We have done a preliminary in-house investigation into how the interview was conducted and on what could have gone wrong with it.
The fact of the matter is that the interview was conducted through telephone by one of our politics reporters on Thursday, 17th December, 2015 calling the interviewee on TELEPHONE NUMBER 08023137144. The normal introductory formalities, according to the reporter, were observed before the interview commenced. In the course of the interview, the person on the other side answered all questions even when he was addressed as the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption.
Online reports quoting Professor Sagay as denying granting the interview were, therefore, received by us with a shock. We consequently listened to the audio recording of the interview and, regrettably, discovered the voice not to be that of Professor Sagay.
While we are continuing our investigations on who the person on the other line actually was and what could have gone wrong along our own line of editorial control, a number of disciplinary actions has been taken against our key members of staff involved in the publication. Specifically, the reporter has been dismissed from the employ of the company and the Editor, Sunday Tribune, placed on indefinite suspension.
We have no reason whatsoever to put words in the mouth of the respected Professor Sagay. We apologise to him. We equally apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari and all other persons who were variously attacked in the publication. Our apologies also go to our esteemed readers. There was no deliberate action on our part to mislead our readers. We have an enviable pedigree and a long history of pioneering, in this country, a brand of journalism that upholds the truth as inviolable at all times. We have an institutional rigorous process in place that hitherto ensured this kind of unfortunate slip never took place.
How this happened, escaping the control system, is part of issues we are addressing. We are taking a firm, corrective look at that mechanism again.
Once again, we promise our readers that this unfortunate incident will not happen again in our operations even as we retract the interview in its entirety.