On January 6, soldiers of the Nigerian Army and members of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies raided the offices of the Media Trust Limited, publishers of the Daily Trust newspaper in Maiduguri and Abuja, seizing computers and arresting its regional bureau chief, Uthman Abubakar along with reporter Ibrahim Sawab.
According to a statement issued by the newspaper’s editor in chief, Mannir Dan-Ali, there was no reason given concerning the military operation on their offices, but they believe it was related with the lead story published by the newspaper on Sunday “that dealt on the military’s efforts to retake some towns recently reported to have been lost to the insurgents”.
The Army spokesman, Sani Usman, confirmed that the soldiers and members of the Nigerian Police Force visited the newspaper’s premises “to invite the staff of the company to talk about its lead story published on Sunday Trust Publication, which divulged classified military information thus undermining national security”.
The President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, said that when the incident occurred the NUJ got immediately in touch with the authorities in order to secure the release of their colleagues. Both of them were released around 11.00 pm and the military ordered to move out of the media’s premises. Isiguzo said that the approach adopted by the military was unacceptable, but stressed that there’s a need for dialogue with the security forces and that this dialogue, that will engage the Chief of Army Staff, is already in the pipeline.
The General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, (IFJ) Anthony Bellanger, condemned the raid and called on the Nigerian military to give back all the computers that were taken from their offices and to respect the rule of law in the execution of their duties. “The Nigerian Government has to take measures to guarantee the safety and security of journalists as the country moves towards a critical election period. Ensuring free flow of information is essential in every democratic system”, he added.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is the world’s largest organisation of journalists. First established in 1926, it represents around 600,000 journalists in 179 unions and associations across 141 countries worldwide. You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to our news updates.
For more Information, please contact the International Federation ofJournalists (IFJ) – Africa Office