The Bola Tinubu campaign organisation says its presidential candidate has the constitutional right to choose which platform to share his views.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Bayo Onanuga, spokesperson of the campaign organisation, reiterated that Tinubu would not be attending Arise TV town hall meeting.
On November 25, the broadcast media announced that its third presidential town hall series would hold on December 4, with four presidential candidates expected to attend.
Tinubu campaign organisation reacted to the announcement with fierce criticism and accused the media house of failing to communicate before broadcasting the invite.
The campaign organisation also warned Arise TV against using its candidate’s photograph in advertisements for the town hall.
In response, Arise TV refused to pull down the image and name of the APC candidate while adding that all public office aspirants must “respond to questions from independent journalists”.
The media house quoted section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
Reacting to the development, the Tinubu campaign described Arise TV’s persistence as “blackmail, intimidation and media bullying”.
It added that Tinubu has headed to the UK, where he would be speaking on security, economy and foreign policy at Chatham House.
“We find it shocking and downright anomalous that Arise News continues to broadcast the participation of All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in its Presidential Town Hall meeting scheduled to hold on 4 December, 2022 despite our earlier statement that our candidate will not be available,” the statement reads.
“We noticed that Arise News has also been running a campaign on the so-called constitutional duty of the presidential candidates to participate in its debate by dubiously citing section 22 of the Constitution of Nigeria on the obligation of the Mass Media.
“While it is trite that the media has a clear constitutional duty to hold public office holders accountable to the citizens and its role as the watchdog of the society, there is no part of the Constitution and the section 22 that says a presidential candidate of any political party and least of all, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu must participate in Arise News Town Hall event or any media organised event at all.
“The same Constitution grants all citizens of Nigeria including, Asiwaju Tinubu the right and freedom of choice and association. The APC presidential candidate has a right to decide where he goes and events to participate in as he seeks the mandate of Nigerians to be elected as the next President of our country.
“We want to make it abundantly clear again that Asiwaju Tinubu will not participate and will not attend the Arise News Town Hall meeting slated for Sunday, 4 December, 2022 and any other ones it may plan before the February 2023 presidential election.
“The APC presidential candidate has his own schedule of campaign activities and other engagements within and outside Nigeria. One of such events is his scheduled event for Monday, December 5, 2022, at Chatham House in London where he will speak on Security, Economy and Foreign Policy.
“Asiwaju Tinubu travelled to United Kingdom early today (Saturday) for this earlier scheduled engagement. We want to reiterate for the umpteenth time that no amount of blackmail, intimidation and media bully and innuendos by the owner and management of Arise News will change the position our campaign has taken on this matter.”