Nigeria’s press community was gripped with tension as some armed soldiers on Sunday invaded the office of Daily Trust in Abuja and Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
The soldiers reportedly stormed the Maiduguri office of the media house around 4:00 pm and whisked away two members of staff.
Confirming the incident, the CEO and Editor in Chief of the medium, Mannir Dan-Ali, said about an hour later, some other soldiers also went ahead to shut down the Abuja office.
“Around four o’clock, I got a call from our Maiduguri office where I was informed that soldiers and some plain-clothes security officials had surrounded our regional office and forced their way in and after spending about 20 minutes, they now went away with two of our reporters (the Bureau Chief Mr Uthman Abubakar and a reporter, Mr Ibrahim Sawab.
“An hour or so, thereafter, I also got another call because I happened to be outside Abuja, driving back into Abuja. So, I got another call saying that soldiers had come to our head office and that they’ve forced themselves into the premises. And eventually they asked everyone to leave the premises and then they confiscated some computers from our editorial department where tomorrow’s paper is being prepared.
“Obviously, the aim is to prevent the Daily Trust from being on the street tomorrow.“Now I’m actually close to the office. I’ve gone to the gate, I’ve seen the soldiers who are manning the gate and they have shut down our five floors and all the lights are off and that’s the situation as I speak to you now,” Dan-Ali said.
But while explaining the reason for the action, defence Spokesman, John Agim, said the military shut down the operations of DailyTrust offices in Abuja and Maiduguri in Borno State, because the medium made a publication that revealed the plans of the military in fighting insurgency.
Agim insisted that the invasion was not to stop the press from doing their job. “I think it is completely unacceptable for any media house to have information about the military plan on the fight against insurgency and publish such plans.
“Boko Haram terrorists will be informed ahead of time and that also shows that they (DailyTrust) are sympathetic to the insurgents and the intention was just to invite them and let them understand the dangers their action puts on the military.
“So, the intention is not to stop the press from doing their job. They need to understand that without peace and security in the land, they cannot perform their job. So for everybody who has information, there’s a need to check with the security agencies before they publish such because releasing such information ahead of time can jeopardize the operation”.
The soldiers have, however, left the Abuja office of news organisation following an order given the the President.
The Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu who made a statement via his Twitter handle later on Sunday.
The Federal Government has directed the military to vacate the premises of @daily_trust and the order has been complied with. Issues between the military and the newspaper as they affect the coverage of the war in the Northeast will be resolved through dialogue.— Garba Shehu (@GarShehu) January 6, 2019