Bayo Onanuga and Dele Alake of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign council have insisted that they will not allow Bola Tinubu to attend town hall debate organised by Arise Television.
The duo, in a statement on Wednesday, said the town hall debate is designed to “embarrass” Tinubu, flagbearer of the APC.
Over the past days, Onanuga and Alake have traded words with Nduka Obaigbena, the publisher of THISDAY newspaper and founder of Arise Television, and editors of the news organisations.
In a publication on Monday, editors of THISDAY/Arise had called on Tinubu to provide a satisfactory answer on the circumstances surrounding the forfeiture of funds to the US government.
The news organisations said the media should not shy away from scrutinising any candidate that is linked to alleged drug trafficking.
They also accused the APC campaign council of “silencing free speech” over unfavourable reports.
But the ruling party’s campaign council dismissed the allegations, describing them as “baseless” while also alleging that the THISDAY founder owes taxes abroad.
In a rebuttal issued on Wednesday through Fauziya Mohammed, his chief of staff, Obaigbena said contrary to the claims of Onanuga and Alake, THISDAY does not owe tax in South Africa.
Obaigbena also challenged them to publish evidence of their claims, and asked the APC campaign council to present Tinubu for debates instead of using “blackmail to intimate the media”.
‘PDP-SPONSORED TOWN HALL MEETINGS’
Responding to Obaigbena’s comment in a statement, Onanuga and Alake alleged that the Arise TV’s town hall meetings are sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“In his first statement attacking us, Obaigbena craftily attempted to mis-characterise as an attack on free speech, our principled stand against his blackmail to have Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu appear on Arise TV and its PDP sponsored Town Hall meetings,” the statement reads.
“In the second statement, he was still adamant that our candidate must attend his town hall debate, despite our stance that our candidate is already executing another communications strategy to reach the most important target: the Nigerian voters.
“We, repeat again: We will not make our candidate available to validate a scheme which, in the light of unassailable information at our disposal, is nothing but a racket by the Arise TV owner, designed to embarrass our candidate.”