The journalist responsible for the release of the alleged phone conversation between the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi and the General Overseer of the Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo has been suspended.
Peoples Gazette on Tuesday suspended Ayoola Babalola over his conduct online that violated the newspaper’s social media policy and called into question its integrity.
The development was announced in a memo released by the platform’s Deputy Managing Editor, Boladale Adekoya.
Babalola following the suspension agreed to attend counselling during the suspension to further enhance his conduct.
Adekoya in the memo stated, “Ayoola Babalola met with the HR, where he was directed to proceed on suspension for one month without pay.
“Mr Babalola is a vibrant and respected member of the organisation’s editorial team,” the publication’s senior staff noted.
He, however, stated that 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.”
The management made the decision after carefully reviewing the reporter’s scathing retorts to relentless online trolls and concluded that Babalola did not act with decorum and professionalism expected of The Gazette’s employees.
Adekoya, however, noted the suspension was a challenging decision “for the organisation: Mr Babalola faced vicious attacks on social media following our scoop on Peter Obi’s phone call with Bishop Oyedepo.
“Still, while the organisation 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.”
Although the controversial tweets had been taken down by Babalola, screenshots of the tweets could still “impugn our professionalism PG well into the future. This should never have happened.
“The management appreciates Mr Babalola’s service and cooperation in the course of handling this situation. This informed the decision to let him proceed on one-month suspension with counselling.”
The senior editor expressed optimism in welcoming back Babalola into the organisation after his suspension and counselling sessions were over.
Adekoya in the final paragraph of the memo stated, “We are happy to welcome Mr Babalola back to continue his fearless journalism in this organisation.”
Babalola said he would abide by the management’s decision on the matter after noticing how newsroom colleagues expressed concerns about his posts that they say could vitiate their own work.