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Outrage greets military crackdown on Daily Trust newspaper

Outrage greets military crackdown on Daily Trust newspaper - the newspaper’s offices, the daily trust, military crackdown, military, daily trust, Daily, crackdown

Widespread condemnation has continued to trail last Monday’s siege and invasion of newspapers regional office in Maiduguri, Borno state by the Nigerian army. Trust regional editor, Uthman Abubakar was arrested on Sunday alongside one of his reporters, Ibrahim Sawab over a report of an impending operation in Borno state published in the Sunday edition of the newspaper.

Although, Mr. Sawab was later released Monday afternoon following an order from presidency for the armed soldiers to vacate the premises of the newspaper, Abubakar was still in their custody, with many calling for his immediate release.

Leading the campaign of condemnation of the on the frontline national newspaper was the International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and journalists. The Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) also berated the army and the government for the invasion. In a petition letter sent to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, IPI described the arrest of journalists and siege of in Maiduguri and Abuja as an attack on media freedom in the country.

IPI executive director, Barbara Trionfi said in the letter: “The authorities have provided no evidence that the information published by would endanger military lives or the security of military operations to an extent that would outweigh the freedom and responsibility of any independent newspaper to inform readers of significant developments of public interest, of which the Nigerian government’s response to the activities of terrorist organisations is undoubtedly one”.

Trionfi argued that the army’s actions were inappropriate, disproportionate and appear to constitute an attempt to silence independent media in the country. Hear him: “We would like to mention here that the Nigerian security services appear to have adopted a habit of arresting and detaining journalists for their investigative reporting on perceived sensitive subjects.

Trionfi argued that the army’s actions were inappropriate, disproportionate and appear to constitute an attempt to silence independent media in the country. Hear him: “We would like to mention here that the Nigerian security services appear to have adopted a habit of arresting and detaining journalists for their investigative reporting on perceived sensitive subjects.

It recalled that “In August last year, the security forces arrested Samuel Ogundipe, a journalist with the Premium Times, for his report about a letter sent by the inspector general of police to the vice president detailing actions of the former director of the State Security Service. The police demanded that Ogundipe reveal his sources.

“During the IPI World Congress in June 2018, we raised the issue of the illegal detention of journalist Jonas Abiri, which the government initially denied. However, the government was later forced to produce Abiri before a court after two years spent behind bars. Eventually, Abiri was freed by the court.

She went further to say that “… we request you to address this breach of press freedom by the army and ensure that the army releases the regional editor of the Trust and returns the computers taken from .

The NPAN, in its statement, also condemned the siege on , the arrest and detention of its staff as well as seizure of its computers. According to the umbrella newspaper publishers association, the military ought to have handled the matter in a more civilized manner rather than resorting to brute force.

Its statements read in parts: “Where an infraction is alleged, the best option is to follow due process and civility; not kneejerk, not intimidation and spread of fear in the civil society. We have gone too far in search of law and order regime than to countenance such display of raw power and emotion over due process”.

Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) also lent his voice to the condemnation of the military assault on the media. According to the human rights lawyer-turned-senator, the invasion was a misguided step by the military. He wrote on his twitter handle @ShehuSani: “We appreciate the service & sacrifice of our troops on the frontline. However, the siege on the & the arrest of Journalists is an affront on freedom, reminiscent of the era of dictatorship.

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