False Death Story a 'Low mark by the standards we set for ourselves'

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Premium Times retracted a story that said A. K. Togun had died. (Credit: Premium Times, screnshot, highlight added)

Nigerian news outlet Premium Times wrongly reported that retired military official Ajibola Kunle Togun died.  Togun is a former “security aide” for Nigeria’s military leader Ibrahim Babangida, who was Nigeria’s “head of state” from 1985-1993, according to Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

According to a Sept. 30 retraction and apology from the paper’s managing editor, Musikilu Mojeed, one of the paper’s “correspondents” turned in the story about Togum’s death based on interviews with “close family members.”

“It is unacceptable, and a low mark by the standards we set for ourselves, and by which we seek to be judged,” Premium Times’ Mojeed said.

He added that the paper is going to “take another look at our gatekeeping process.” Further, “the reporter and editors involved in the incident” will be disciplined.

Premium Times said it unpublished the report and called the error “unacceptable.”  However iMediaEthics found the story on Premium Times’s website.

The story was headlined “BREAKING: Brig. Gen A.K. Togun, Babangida’s security aide linked to Dele Giwa’s murder, is dead.” The story reported that Togun died but that “details of the late officer’s death is also sketchy at this time.” It further detailed Togun’s past related to Giwa.

According to the Premium Times story, Togun had been the “deputy director of the State Security Service.” Giwa was a journalist who helped establish “Nigeria’s first newsmagazine, Newswatch,” according to the Committee to Project Journalists’s 2009 report on Giwa’s murder.

Giwa was killed in 1986 when a piece of mail he was opening blew up. Togun had “interrogated” Giwa the week of his murder, according to CPJ. The New York Times reported at the time that the meeting was the “fourth time in a year” the State Security Service questioned him “about his coverage of sensitive political topics.”

iMediaEthics has written to Premium Times asking for more details about what went wrong and about the disciplinary action for the reporter. We’ll update with any response.

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False Death Story a ‘Low mark by the standards we set for ourselves’

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