Alleged $30bn fraud: First News Editor resigns hours after management apologised to Gbajabiamila

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Embattled Editor of an online news platform, FirstNews, Segun Olatunji, has tendered his resignation hours after the medium’s management apologised to Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief of Staff to President Bola Tinubu.

Olatunji, who spent 14 days in the custody of Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) Abuja for a report on Gbajabiamila, said he resigned for his safety and that of the family.

The report titled: “How Gbajabiamila attempted to corner $30bn, 66 houses traced to Sabiu” was written by Olatunji. The story was published on the newspaper’s website on January 29, 2024.

However, in a statement on Wednesday (yesterday), First News management acknowledged that the article contained falsehoods and fabricated information “handed out to us as facts by a misleading source”.

They expressed deep regret for their oversight and extended an unreserved apology to Gbajabiamila.

“As a responsible media organisation, we wish to state very categorically that we have no malicious intent towards the person of the Chief of Staff to the President or his office. Hence, our decision to tender an unreserved apology and the need to publish a retraction of the said story,” the statement said.

Reacting to the development Olatunji tendered his resignation with immediate effect.

In his resignation letter, Olatunji expressed confidence that the truth would eventually emerge, stressing his commitment to defending his integrity in the face of any allegations.

He, however, urged the management of First News to promptly settle the outstanding one-year salary owed to him.

His resignation letter reads in part: ”In view of the latest development regarding the Gbajabiamila story and the stance of the company’s Management, I hereby tender my resignation as the General Editor of First News.

”It has become imperative for me to resign my appointment for the safety of my person and my family.

”However, I want to state that in no distant time, the truth will come out and then it’ll be my word against theirs.

”I hope the Management of First Media Network Limited, publishers of First News newspaper, will be magnanimous enough to fully settle the one year outstanding salaries I am being owed, in no time.

”I thank the company’s management for giving me the opportunity to contribute my quota to its operations in the past four years.”

NewsClick Nigeria reports that Olatunji was arrested and detained in an underground cell by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).

It was earlier reported that he was abducted from his home in Lagos State in March, eliciting condemnation from the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and International Press Institute (IPI).