A Nigerian online newspaper, the Peoples Gazette, which reported the alleged leaked audio conversation between Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP and Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church has suspended one of its reporters Ayoola Babalola for one month without pay for violating the newspaper’s social media policy.
Babalola, who sat on the political desk of Peoples Gazette, had previously worked for Sahara Reporters, another Nigerian online-based newspaper.
This was disclosed on Tuesday in a statement issued by the Peoples Gazette, announcing the suspension.
The statement contained in a memo signed by the Deputy Managing Editor, Boladale Adekoya was sent to all reporters.
Recall that the leaked audio conversation in contest alleged that Obi ahead of the presidential election solicited help from Oyedepo to talk to his people and in the conversation described the election as a “religious war.”
However, Obi, in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday, described the audio as fake.
He further raised an alarm that immense pressure was being mounted on him to leave the country.
The online media outfit said the decision by the management followed after carefully reviewing the reporter’s responses to online trolls.
Peoples Gazette said it concluded that he did not act with the decorum and professionalism expected of the organisation’s employees.
“Ayoola Babalola met with the HR, where he was directed to proceed on suspension for one month without pay,” the online newspaper stated in the memo.
“Mr Babalola is a vibrant and respected member of the organisation’s editorial team,” the statement noted but the reporter’s “conduct on social media, both from months past and as recently as last weekend, grossly violated the organisation’s guideline on personnel conduct.”
“Still, while the organization sympathises and stands strongly with Mr Babalola and all staff members who come frequently under social media onslaught, the manner with which colleagues handle online trolls is what distinguishes us as professionals,” it said.