The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has demanded a retraction from the Guardian Newspaper over a false news report by the publication.
The Ministry’s protestation is over a story titled “Presidency Approves N4billion For Edo 2020 Sports Festival” which misrepresented how the 20th National Sports Festival held in Benin City, Edo State was funded.
A letter dated April 10, 2021 and signed by the Special Assistant, Media to the Minister of Youth and Sports, John Joshua Akanji and addressed to Mr. Martins Oloja, Editor in Chief of Guardian Newspaper, warned that the publication has 72 hours to retract the story failing which the Ministry will seek legal redress.
The letter reads, “Reference is made to the above publication in your online edition on 10 April 2021 3.31am, which created the erroneous and misleading impression that the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development forwarded a budget of N4 billion naira to the Presidency and got approval for same as assistance to the Local Organizing Committee (LOC)/Edo State Government.
“The Guardian is our flagship, a respected stable and we expect the best of journalism from it.
“The Ministry is therefore shocked and displeased that the Guardian Newspaper published this misleading story without fact checking, a necessary journalistic approach that would have revealed that at no time was a budget presented to the Presidency. By the way, in line with the democratic principle of separation of powers, only the National Assembly has the constitutional powers to pass a budget and not the executive arm as insinuated in the report.
“What the Ministry did was to approach the Federal Government to assist the Edo State Government with financial assistance to ensure that the 20th National Sports Festival, which had been postponed several times is finally held. This imperative arose out of the realization that thousands of athletes, more than 80% of them youth, are being frustrated and have become restive as their careers have been put on hold due to the many postponements.
“The Ministry has copies of its correspondences with the Presidency and the Edo State Government pertaining to the 20th National Sports Festival and is prepared to tender them as evidence in court should matters get to such stage because at no time was a requisition made for N4 billion, which implies that the Presidency could not have approved what was not requested. We therefore request that your reporter, Gowon Akpodonor, who authored the false story, is asked to produce the documents of request and approval of N4 billion claimed in the story.
“Consequently, we hereby demand a retraction of the false story within 72 hours, or we will seek legal redress”.