PREMIUM TIMES replies Nigerian Army, demands apology from Buratai, others

Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai
Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai

PREMIUM TIMES has replied a letter sent by the Nigerian Army, threatening legal action against the newspaper for publications about the army and its chief, Tukur Buratai, a Lieutenant General.

On Wednesday, the newspaper published a letter dated December 22, written on behalf of Mr. Buratai, by I.M Alkali, a Major General, accusing PREMIUM TIMES of “unwarranted serial provocative, unauthorised, libelous and defamatory publications”.

The letter also claimed the paper published reports without reference to the army, saying the stories exposed a “deep hatred for the leadership of the Nigerian Army”.

The letter expressed displeasure with three stories published by the medium between October and December last year. The army described the stories as “false, unsubstantiated, and unprofessional” but provided no evidence to back its claim.

The letter demanded PREMIUM TIMES retract the reports and apologise to the army and Mr. Buratai.

PREMIUM TIMES, on Tuesday, through its lawyers, delivered a detailed response to the Army, affirming its stories, and unequivocally rejecting the demand for retractions and apology.

The paper, instead, asked the army to write a letter within seven days of receiving its reply, withdrawing the allegations and threats against it and its staff, or risk being sued.

Jiti Ogunye, the newspaper’s principal counsel, who signed the response, took the army to task on the “grave implications” of its letter, and describing the army’s letter as a threat to the well-being and life of PREMIUM TIMES’ staff.

“By your letter you have threatened the lives of our clients, and our clients are thus obliged to put the public on notice that should any harm come to them, you, the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army should be held accountable,” he wrote.

Mr. Ogunye said the “chilling threats” contained in the army’s letter was an affront on the constitutional guarantee of civilian control of the army and the freedom of the press.

“It is our view that all working journalists and news outlets are entitled to some protection from public officers, especially of the military and security agencies who are charged with the duty to secure and protect Nigeria and Nigerians, their lives and property, and maintain law and order, but who often, because of the uniqueness of that duty and for reason of the exclusive bearing of arms and control of our commonly owned ordinance, assume very erroneously that they are above the law,” he said.

He rebuked the army for describing PREMIUM TIMES’ stories as “unprofessional” saying military and other public officials were not in a position to question the paper’s professionalism.

“The penchant of public officers to flippantly, arrogantly and ignorantly label media reports and stories and journalists ‘unprofessional’ once they are affected by media reports and stories must be deprecated with decorous pungency. Sir, you are not in any position at all to teach our Clients media professionalism, ethics and standards,” the paper said.

“It really can be exasperating and disconcerting to see public officers condescendingly castigate journalists, many of whom are not only internationally acclaimed and celebrated but who also have up to forty years of practice as journalists under their belt,” the letter stated.

Mr. Ogunye also criticised the army’s penchant for claiming exclusivity of patriotism and national sacrifice.

“We must also rebuke the false assumption that our military men, exclusively, are an epitome of patriotism and national sacrifice, and that they love Nigeria more than civilians do.

“Sir, the Nigerian Army of which you spoke so glowingly is an heir to a military that unpatriotically subverted, many times, constitutional governance in Nigeria, plunged Nigeria into a three-year internecine civil war, committed unspeakable rights violations against the Nigerian people and thwarted the efforts of Nigerians to restore democratic governance to Nigeria.

“The Nigerian Media, if you must be reminded, played a frontline role and suffered gross human rights violation, perpetrated by the military, in the struggle to rid Nigeria of military dictatorship. Our clients, therefore, totally reject your claim that they hate Nigeria, their country.

“The Nigerian Army does not love Nigeria more than Nigerians love themselves. An armed force of less than three hundred thousand officers and men cannot claim to love Nigeria, a country of over one hundred and eighty million people, more than the Nigerian civil population.

“Even under the current civil government, the officers and men of the Nigerian Army continue to carry out acts that threaten the survival of democratic governance. The roles played by officers and men of the Nigerian Army in the Ekiti State Governorship Election in 2014; the insertion of the Nigerian Army in the partisan allegation that the WASC School Certificate of our President, Muhammadu Buhari, then a candidate, could not be found in the Nigerian Army’s records during the 2015 electioneering campaigns; the seizure and confiscation of newspapers nationwide during the Presidency of Goodluck Jonathan by men and officers of the Nigerian Army under the guise of looking for terrorist elements; and the recent killings that attended the insistence on right of way by the Nigerian Army against the adherents of the Shiite Islamic Sect in Zaria, in which hundreds of civilians lost their lives, are cases in point.

“A Nigerian Army that carries out such acts that not only violate the human rights of the citizens, but also subvert democracy and the rule of law cannot lay a claim to patriotism superior to the patriotism of the Nigerian media,” he wrote.

He added that the role of the media, as that of the military, is entrenched in the constitution and one is not superior to the other. Mr. Ogunye said by the threats contained in the army’s letter, and by tagging it an enabler of terrorism, PREMIUM TIMES’ constitutionally-given right to practice journalism had been breached or was about to be breached.

“You should know that your wild allegations against our clients implicate the invocation, against our clients, of Section 4 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, No. 10,2011, which prescribes a maximum prison term of 20 years for any person convicted of knowingly, in any manner, solicits or renders support for an act of terrorism or a proscribed terrorist organization, and the death penalty where death results from such solicitation or rendering of support. And you should also have realized that your allegations imputed, on the part of our clients, the commission of treasonable offences and aiding the enemy under our criminal law.”

PREMIUM TIMES asked the army to write a letter, addressed to its Publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi, withdrawing the threats and allegations within seven days. The paper warned of legal action to enforce its fundamental rights.

“In the circumstances, we hereby demand that you write a letter of withdrawal of these threats and allegations, to our clients, wherein you are to assure them of their safety and protection by the security and law enforcement agencies in Nigeria, in particular, the Nigerian Army. The letter, to be addressed to Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, Managing Director of Premium Services Ltd/ Editor in Chief of Premium Times must be received within seven (7) working days of delivery of this letter to you.

“That should you fail, refuse or neglect to write and deliver the above letter as demanded, our clients will not hesitate to institute a legal action against you, your principals, the Nigerian Army and the Federal Government of Nigeria, to enforce their fundamental rights under the Constitution,” the letter stated.

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  • Malik

    See me see wahala
    Army wan shakara Premium times maybe dem go gock am
    But the shakara be like say e go back fire o
    Make we dey see as this gbege go play out

  • dee. baniluxol

    It’s okay. The Army must not quarrel with Premium Times and Premium Times too must not quarrel.
    Both of you want the best thing for Nigeria but you don’t have to agree on the best way all the time.
    Democracy means that opposite views to make Nigeria a good country should be argued in public.
    That is the only way to know the superior argument for Nigerians to accept as the best policy option.
    Meantime the Chief of Army Staff must not forget to update his assets declaration for the omissions.
    A declaration of assets must be complete and include all assets without leaving anything out of it.

    • marc umeh

      Now you are going too far . Declaration of asset ? You might be locked up yourself.

  • Terry bandit

    Let the verbal war begin but PT be careful. Remember the dark days of military rule.

    • Roberto

      @terrybandit:disqus

      Premium Times is owned by the people of The Gambia. They must be banned from reporting anything Nigeria.

      We must not allow Premium Times to talk about anything Nigeria or exposing anyone that steals anything here.

  • thusspokez

    PREMIUM TIMES asked the army to write a letter, addressed to its Publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi, withdrawing the threats and allegations within seven days. The paper warned of legal action to enforce its fundamental rights.

    In addition, PremiumTimesNG should demand that the Buratai PLC officers who wrote and issued the letter be reprimanded by the true Nigerian army for bringing the Nigerian army into disrepute for the sake of one man.

    • Gary

      You’re joking right? The same “one man” appointed COAS was the principal figure in the biggest Army mass murder of Nigerian civilians in peace time less than six months after Buhari, a retired General, appointed him.

      Nothing happened to him for killing the Shiites in Zaria and the shootings of Biafra protesters in the East. So why would anyone think that threatening the media will prompt an apology or reprimand from his boss.
      The Army is often the reflection of its leadership. Well, Nigerians now have the change they voted for in 2015.

      • AFRICANER

        Exactly. This Buratai guy, raise snakes for a living, in commercial quantities.

      • thusspokez

        I wasn’t talking about him but those officers who are turning the Nigerian army into Buratai Plc. But since you have mentioned him, may I remind you that not many Nazi officers who participated in the various massacres ever expected that one day — even in their 90s — that they would be arrested, prosecuted and sent to jail where they would spend the rest of their lives.

        So Buratai should pray that he dies before his crime against humanity catches up with me. And don’t tell me that nothing will happen because “it is Nigeria”. I would respond by saying that very few could predict with accuracy what will happen in the future.

  • tsunami1earthquake

    I think it is time the military was taught basic civics that underlie a smooth running of our society. A situation whereby the military takes upon itself that self-vested position of being better than the civilians MUST be stamped out. Firstly, the military should understand that its members started out as civilians and must have acquired a civilian-recognized qualification that saw them into the military. In other words, the military usually itemizes civilian-based educational and physical qualifications as conditions for enlisting in the military. So how could the military turn around to look down on civilians and civilian life? And at the end of their stint in the military these same arrogant military men and women revert to civilian life, a life they had despised all their military days! What an irony!

    I mention this little to educate the military on the importance and primacy of the civil society and the civilian life. I say this because the military cannot stand on its own. Just consider a society where civilians don’t exist and you have only the military! But the military is just there to fulfill a civilian assignment, which is to go and defend the society; and that is a paid assignment, failing which the military would be disbanded! And defending the society does not in any way imply that the military would or should turn against the very civil society it has been detailed to protect; a protection made possible by arms provided by civilians. A situation where a gatekeeper turns against his master is a height of treason. But this is what the military does daily in Nigeria!

    I have written many times that the present military must be disbanded because many of its members have forgotten their constitutional roles and have turned against the civilian population that maintains and sustains them. That is something near treason! Many of these military officers travel to other countries; and I challenge them to tell us that members of the British or American military brutalize civilians on the streets as we see every day in Nigeria. In fact it is even rare to see members of military of these nations mingle with civilians, let alone brutalizing members of the civil society.

    I don’t know who or what gave these military people that audacity and temerity to go about brutalizing members of the civil society. Government after government in Nigeria has always turned a blind eye to these atrocities. And when presented to them the military officers in charge of these brutes make a veiled statement that civilians must not provoke members of the military; an implicit recognition of the atrocities committed daily by these members of the Nigerian military.

    I don’t know how the current president of Nigeria would view the kind of threats against the Premium Times organization and writ-large, the entire Nigerian population which the newspaper has touched on. But I believe that a responsible government must always rein in on members of the military when the latter begin to act outside their constitutional mandates. It is never in the Nigerian Constitution that the military should brutalize members of the civil society; I am yet to see that in that document.

    If the present president of the country should act according to his powers he must come out of his self-imposed internal exile and checkmate the military of which he is the commander-in-chief.

    • princegab

      Good talk, remedy is in education and education only.

    • Netanyahu

      Brilliant, without being abusive. This is the kind of posts we should be seeing in this forum for constructive engagement not the loudmouth, empty heads who think they are defending their so called tribe. Thank you for this wonderful contribution.

  • Capt

    We see who blinks first

  • Man_Enough

    I’m not so much concerned about the veracity of the said publication as the need to act more patriotically. One of the most effective weapons of war is propaganda. The sensationalism and the zeal with which premium times report boko haram’s attacks tend to boost the moral of the dissidents to the mockery of our gallant soldiers. It is not every “truth” that need to be told.

    • Eze

      kikikikikikikikikikikiki. laughing in spanish ooo. “it is not every “truth” that need to be told”. now i see why we are here. just short of words for caution against….

    • Say the truth

      You are simply a hypnotized zombie.

      • Sharp Sharp

        No you’re the cowardly moron !! Period search yourself and check into a mental home !!!

    • sab

      So now it needs blanking out boko haram activities to weaken them no matter what they do? Wonders shall never cease! Two years ago, the cover story of every newspaper in the country used to be celebration of BH activities on a daily basis as if it was written law to do so. Then, there was no need for patriotism but now, no matter what they, bk must not be reported, chai, this country self

    • aeskor

      “I’m not so much concerned about the veracity of the said publication”. Well sir, that is simply the problem we face in Nigeria today and incidentally it seems to be a global problem. The truth does not matter any more as long as we can have our way and define “truth” according to our expectations. You may not care so much for the truth but let me assure you that there are still many Nigerians who care to hear the truth. You can choose to be politically correct by side-stepping the truth but it will not go away. So, patriotism is now more important than the truth, eh?

      • Powerlessconscious

        When I was in UK, there media does not write a story to cause public panic. I can tell you a lot of bad things that happen there which was not publicised in acway that will cause public panic.

    • sab

      Did you ever complain about three years ago when boko haram stories dominated virtually all newspapers, radio and televisions in Nigeria? Why is it it is only now that yo just wake up to realise that such stories encourage boko haram and that it should not be so? Don’t forget that most of these stories have their sources from the army

    • Kola Adekola

      The truth doesn’t matter? Seriously?
      Its quite clear that like Buhari and his despicable government, you are a lover of lies and propaganda.

  • princegab

    Rebuttal is all it takes from the army not threat. PT’s lawyer did a good job voiding the army’s threats. Both parties should withdraw to their respective enclaves and to their respective mandates.

    • Kalli Usman

      Premium pls show a little bit of patriotism. You will agree with me that without the army and other security agencies, you will hardly be able to practice your profession freely let alone spewing out all these unwarranted grammar and threats. We must all come together to move this nation forward, sometimes unnecessary confrontation does not pay. This is my personal opinion.

      • princegab

        Agreed, thanks

      • aeskor

        @Kalli Usman, is the Army more patriotic simply because it is the Army? is PT unpatriotic simply because it published material critical of the Army and its leadership? The history of the armed forces of Nigeria in the last 40 years or so in the affairs of Nigeria certainly questions the assumption, as reflected in your comment, that the army is more patriotic than PT or non-uniformed ordinary folks in the country breaking their back every day working at thankless and unpaid jobs across the country. Many atrocities have been committed by uniformed and non-uniformed Nigerians in the name of patriotism. I think a better way of dealing with the issues raised in the published stories about the army and its leadership, is to present well researched and fact-backed rebuttals of the PT publications complained of rather than for it to be throwing its heavy weight about and demanding retractions and apologies laced with potentially dangerous threats.

      • Sharp Sharp

        Patriotism is the last refuge for scoundrel !!! Mtcheeeewwww !!! Nonsense !!!

      • Yemi

        The Nigerian army Chief is out of order and PT has done an excellent job in highlighting the short comings of this corrupt useless General under whose watch innocent shites were slaughtered. Your comment that PT should show patriotism is childish given that all it was doing was respond to the ridiculous allegations made against it and because PT and SR and publications such as these have demonstrated again and again that patriotism and love of Nigeria by continuing to call these awful leaders to account. Shame on you.

        • Smart

          He who disrespect and badly tarnish the image of his country to the rest of the world should be charged with high treason,

  • Omoba1

    Chai! Premiumtimes took the Nigerian Army to the cleaners. My God

  • Dazmillion

    Buhari must be the last khaki man to rule Nigeria, enough of these nonsense

    • Say the truth

      Welcoming back to your senses. I think all of you and your sponsors have seen the foolishness of supporting and encouraging a dictator and dictatorship.

    • Irumundomon

      Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower was a five star grneral, what war did nigerian generals actually fought, that they disrespect anything to everything in Nigeria.
      The facts were printed, from buhari to the least insignificant apc members, they hate to be told some thing different from their myopic views of things in nigeria.
      To them, God is a liar.

  • Factsay

    Burutai’s pythons have got into his head, that’s y he decided to carry python dance to SE where python is not feared.

    Having failed in SE, burutai snakes and pythons are now chasing after premiumtimes. It is time someone tames Burutai b4 he starts biting brutally and Buhari may be his victim

  • Irumundomon

    You all voted for a change, enjoy.

  • olat

    Premium Times shd conduct internal investigation into the activities of Samuel Ogundipe and Evelyn Okakwu.

    The letter from both parties is not civil enough and that from PT lawyer is the worst have seen in decades to government institution’s from the press. The second paragraph from the Nigerian Army letter is unnecessary especially the one that relate to terrorism, PT plays a big roles in the fight against BH.
    Nigerian Army belongs to Nigerians and not Buratai and any letter addressed to such institution shd b more civil, also the Nigerian Army shd b more formal in their letter.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    • Yemi

      You appear to have trouble staying on topic. We are discussing threats made by the army against the staff of PT not the style of writing of both parties. You may want to clarify in your mind what you want to say clearly first before entering a discussion again.

      • Smart

        Anyone threatening national security should be dealt with accordingly.

  • Lanre

    Thank you Premium Times. This is how it is done in decent societies. Nigeria is not a decent one. And you will soon find out. Yorubaland will be free!

    • Gusau Inde

      BIAFRAUD, CAN YOU STOP DRAGGING YORUBA PEOPLE INTO YOUR WARPED HEAD?

    • Smart

      We Nigerians believe in Nigeria our birth place, those who did not go enter canoe go Italy as slaves to white men, ungrateful animals

    • David Adeniran

      Why can’t you concentrate on freeing Biafraudland, the Chief Impostor?

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  • John Abayomi

    What is all this crap from PT lawyer? that is why we have endless cases in the courts, this charge and bail lawyer resorted to unwarranted and unnecessary rhetoric’s over a simple rebuttal, I beg go sidon jor!
    While I am not holding brief for the Nigerian Army over their atrocities, I wonder why PT should arrogate to herself the position of speaking for over 180 millions Nigerians? these set of jokers never seizes to amaze me

    • Noble

      But how do you think the lawyers earn their living? It is through this too know.

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  • Alhajivinco

    Bloody military that thinks it has a monopoly of patriotism. The majority are good wo/men but a great number of them are uncouth, brutal, anti-people, charlatans and bloody thieves.

    • Smart

      The major thing Nigerian so-called elites learnt from schools is criticism and abusivicism.
      They tend to be disciplined and well mannered while outside, but immediately back to to Nigeria, they are the first to start cursing their own land.
      Bunch of coward educated illiterate.
      Nigeria needs a fierceness dictator to cure us of these vermins

  • okenwa

    Gallant nigeria army VS gallant and fearless premiumtimes. Oya chipunu ya.

  • Oracle

    Those living or dead in the reality of BH are the living and dead victims of terrorism.
    The only mediator btw the public and the truth on ground Is the media and those who escaped to tell their stories.

    Are those in luxurious residences, cars, offices, hotels, bulletproof all in all in touch with the truth?

    Dear Nigerian Army, generally, public views and opinions, especially the victims and the conerned (non beneficiaries of the war in any guise) in this matter, are the best judge because they are potentially the next victim.

    YOU PLAY STORIES INTO THE HANDS OF THE MEDIA WHEN YOU EITHER DELAY TO ACT OR DENY THE FACTS ON GROUND

    Or what exactly is the definition of patriotism?:
    1. Calling white black? Or mix up the two and then call it grey to create confusion?
    2. To agree with the army and the government that only 50 died when 500 are already deady, and still counting?

  • omikosh

    Why should our Glorious and Victorious Army hang its golden jewel on the nose of this premium pig?