Editors, CUPP, IPC condemn military invasion of Daily Trust offices
Army denies alleged intention to muzzle press
The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned the invasion of the Abuja, Lagos and Maiduguri offices of the Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust and other titles, and arrest of the newspaper’s editor and reporters by some soldiers.
It said the intimidation and arrest of journalists discharging their constitutional duties in the offices of the newspaper was not the type of story befitting the military in a democracy.
In a statement by its President, Funke Egbemode and Social/Publicity Secretary, Ken Ugbechie, the NGE said: “The picture painted by this brutal and primitive incursion into the workplace of a media organisation in a democracy in the 21st Century does incalculable damage, not only to the psyche of Nigerians, young and old, but to the rest of the world.
“We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the arrested journalists. While we welcome the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari who has ordered the vacation of the premises of Trust Media Limited by the soldiers, we also demand an unreserved apology to the management of Media Trust by the military authorities.
“The Guild hereby implores the military to seek the path of civility in conformity with the established democratic ideals and values.”
Also, a group of opposition political parties, under the auspices of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), yesterday condemned the alleged invasion of the newspaper.
It, therefore, asked the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, to leave the media alone to carry on its unfettered duties constitutionally.
The group also demanded immediate the release of all the arrested journalists.
In the same vein, the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria, has condemned the forceful closure of the organisation’s Maiduguri office by military personnel.
According to Director, IPC Nigeria, Lanre Arogundade, the Centre considers the development as a fresh threat to freedom of the press as well as the freedom and individual liberties of journalists and other media professionals working in the organistion.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has denied accusation of alleged attempt to muzzle the press, saying that the security operatives were at the offices of Daily Trust Newspaper in Abuja and Maiduguri last Sunday to invite the members of staff over a story published.
Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, who stated this in a statement, alleged that in the process of publishing a story last Sunday by the paper, classified military information was revealed.
He said the newspaper disclosed details of planned military operations against Boko Haram insurgents, thereby undermining national security.
According to him, the action amounted to sabotaging the planned operations and endangering the lives of troops in the disturbed region.
The army stated that the invitation of those responsible for divulging military’s plan was done with the best of intention to make them realise the import of such act to our national security.
“We, therefore, advise all, particularly journalists, not to worry but engage in their responsive reportage and to be professional as the Nigerian Army has no intention of muzzling the press or jeopardising press freedom. “We, however, wish to enjoin further that they should eschew jeopardising national security in their reportage.”
We would not tolerate situation where a publication would consistently side with terrorists and undermine our national institutions.
The Army urged the media to be professional in its duty and appealed to all, especially the media, to join hands with the Nigerian military and security forces to end terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.
“We would like to further assure that the invitation is for further investigation and if need be, all those culpable of jeopardising security operations will be prosecuted by the relevant law enforcement agency,” it said.
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