Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) have reacted to the military’s invasion of the Abuja, Borno and Lagos offices of a daily publication, Daily Trust Newspapers.
The groups describe the Sunday clampdown on the media outfit as a threat to the nation’s democracy, an attempt to intimidate the press and an affront to basic principles of human rights.
Recall that news broke out on Sunday evening that armed soldiers had invaded the Maiduguri office of the newspapers and seized the regional editor, Uthman Abubakar and a reporter, Ibrahim Sawab.
Also, the Abuja and Lagos bureau offices were shut down by a joint team of policemen and soldiers.
In its reaction, Amnesty International Nigeria said it was a responsibility on the part of the government to protect the press rather than intimidate it.
On its twitter handle, it writes, “Amnesty International is concerned by the invasion of @Dailytrust HQ Abuja & Maiduguri Bureau. Arrest of reporters and siege at the editorial offices of the paper could only intimidate the #FreePress in #Nigeria.
“Nigerian authorities have obligation to protect freedom of the press @daily_trust as provided by the constitution & International human rights laws. #FreePress #Nigeria.”
In its on reaction, the Socio-economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP) said the attack was an aberration on the guiding principles of democracy.
“Attack on @Dailytrust offices and arbitrary arrest of their reporters is an attack on Nigerians’ freedom of expression and media freedom and an affront to basic principles of human rights and rule of law central to democracy. @MBuhari @ProfOsinbajo #FREEDailytrustJournalistsNow”.
Also a statement by Lanre Arogundade, the Director of the Lagos office of the International Press Centre (IPC) described the incident as a “fresh threat to freedom of the press” especially with few days to the 2019 general elections.
The statement read in part, “IPC considers this 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 Daily Trust.
“The action of the military is also a threat to democracy with the presidential elections, less than two months away.
“The military is bound by the laws of the land and cannot in any circumstance be allowed to resort to extra judicial measures no matter its grievances.”
The military said it closed in on the media organisation for its reportage on the ongoing war against insurgents in the North-East, which was capable of undermining its effort in containing the terrorists.
The military states, “It afforded the Boko Haram terrorists prior notice of our plans and giving them early warning to prepare against the Nigerian military, thus sabotaging the planned operations and putting the lives of troops in imminent and clear danger.”
The federal government has since ordered the offices be opened with immediate effect.
By Babatunde Alao….
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