Nigerian Army writes PREMIUM TIMES, talks tough, threatens legal action

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

The Nigerian Army has written PREMIUM TIMES, threatening to sue the paper for what it termed unwarranted serial provocative, unauthorised, libelous and defamatory publication” against the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, a Lieutenant General, and the army’s counter-insurgency operation in the north-east of the country.

The letter, dated December 22, 2016, and signed by I.M Alkali, a major general, on behalf of Mr. Buratai, accused the paper of publishing reports without reference to the army, adding that its 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 reports were those on the planned invitation of Mr. Buratai by the Code of Conduct Bureau for asset verification, the disappearance of a high number of soldiers after a Boko Haram attack and an investigation detailing how soldiers allegedly killed a kidnapped pastor and labeled him a kidnapper.

The army in its letter described the reports as “false,” “unsubstantiated,” and “unprofessional.”img_1594

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“Despite the fact that your unprofessional publications are injurious to the personality of the leadership of the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Army as a whole, it may interest you to know that your attempts have failed woefully to malign and impugn the hard-earned character of the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army,” the letter said.

The letter therefore ordered PREMIUM TIMES to retract the said publications and apologise to Mr. Buratai and the Nigerian Army.

“Your retraction should be done in at least 3 national dailies and in online newspapers for 3 days consecutively from 29-31 December 2016.

“You are to also publish an apology to the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army in 3 Nigeria newspaper and online publications.

“Failure to retract and withdraw the said publications by Premium Times Services Limited on or before 31 December, 2016, the Nigerian Army team of lawyers will be instructed to proceed against you in court.”

Officials at PREMIUM TIMES said the letter from the Army Headquarters arrived the paper’s head office in Abuja a day after the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor, labelled the medium a Boko Haram supporter on live television.

Contacted Wednesday for comments on the letter, Editor-in-Chief Musikilu Mojeed said, “All I can say at this point is that we stand by our stories.

“We have passed the letter to our lawyers for appropriate response. I can assure you they (the Army) will get an appropriate response before long.”


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  • Retired Journalist

    I am an avid reader of Premium Times. I have yet to see evidence of deep-seated hatred on the part of Premium Times.
    If there is such slant I would be the first to call out Premium Times. No reasonable media house can be opposed to
    the national army at a time of war against Boko Haram. For that reason the military perspective that perhaps
    Premium Times hates the Chief of Army Staff may not be accurate because it would be tantamount to
    hating the Nigerian Army the chief of army ommands to war. There may be issues of accountability.
    But Premium Times is evenhanded on honesty in public office for all persons across the board.
    It is certainly not true that Premium Times demands accountability from only the Chief of Army.

    • Spyman29

      Retired Journalist or whatever your name is, allow Premium Times to respond to the Army

      • Taiwo Obisakin

        @spyman29:disqus

        Thank you jare. We must first ask why he retired from journalism. If he was sacked
        it could be that he was poking his nose like busybody in things that dn’t concern him.
        He may have a liberty here to comment, at least as a rwader, but beyond saying that
        he hasn’t seen anything close to personal deep-seated hatred for the Chief of Army
        on the part of Premium Times, he should allow Premium Times to defend itself by itself.

  • Poky

    D Army shld do dir Job and allow Premium Times so dirs. Sick of dis treaths from dis government and dir Security appendages. We r dir Masters and dey Serve us

  • thusspokez

    It would seem that someone in the Nigerian army — paid with public fund — is spending too much time on the Internet rather than worrying about boko haram and other militants.

    The Nigerian army is clearly struggling to catch up with the modern social media. Does the Nigerian army remember what happened to the Nigeria Senate when it tried to introduce the so-called social media bill; and subsequently even had to deny the existence of any such bill?

    You start threatening one news media, soon you will have thousands queuing up to irritate you even more. And what is the Nigerian army going to do?–Take all of them to court — assuming they are all based in Nigeria?

    My advice to the Nigeria army is grow up and stop being so petty; focus on serious issues. And finally, get a better public relation staff who understand the modern social media and use it to the army’s advantage, e.g., counter negative and disagreeable news reports, and give the Nigerian army a positive spin — the opposite to bullying and threatening news media.

    • Gary

      Looks like the Nigeria Army still has dinosaurs from the era of military rule in its officer ranks. They still think they can threaten and bully the press like they did in the bad old days.
      Sorry folks, it’s a new day and everyone in the world with a cell and Internet access is now a journalist and not even subject to national borders or restrictions.

      PT should remember to send Mr. Buratai flowers and a thank you card for helping to raise their brand profile and reputation for being good enough to rattle the entire Army of Nigeria.
      You must be doing a good job to be so noticed with all the Army has to do – from killing Shiites and Biafrans, fighting Biko Haram and deployments all over the country to do civilian policing.
      We don’t want to get Mr. Buratai angry by talking about Dubai properties or snake farming on the side as COAS.

      • thusspokez

        Looks like the Nigeria Army still has dinosaurs in its officer ranks from the era of military rule in Nigeria. They still think they can threaten and bully the press like they did in the bad old days.

        Indeed, hangover from the military junta days.

        Funny that the army is pissed off with PT reporting and yet it allows its soldiers to carry mobile phones, and cameras to the war front, and take videos and later post them on YouTube.

        We don’t want to get Mr. Buratai angry by talking about Dubai properties or snake farming on the side as COAS.

        The warming, beside being churlish, is an affront on the army. The Nigerian army is an institution. So when the Nigerian become Buratai Public limited company (Plc)? That an affront on Buratai becomes an affront on the Nigerian army?

        I am sure that the nincompoops who sat down and wrote the warning do not know the difference between an institution and those employed by that institution nor do they know that President Buhari and not Buratai is their boss.

        Their boss, Buhari is a recipient of daily name calling, innuendos, insults, and allegations in newspapers and on websites. So why has the Nigerian army not already declared World War III on thei online critics of their boss if they are prepared to issue warning on behalf of Buratai who works for Buhari.

        Come to think of it: what if Buratai boss, Buhari were to fire him (say) tomorrow? What will happen to the warning already issued by the army? Will these officers who issued the warning continue with their treats or be very embarrassed by their foolhardy and for bringing the Nigerian arm into disrepute?.

    • princegab

      You said it all, I’m vented. Thank you.

  • Dazmillion

    Buratai is getting more controversial everyday. In a sane society he should have been facing murder charge and false asset declaration.

  • Höly Wähala

    But their ultimatum for publishing an apology and retracting of the said publications have since expired yet, no action…
    Premium Times should ignore the NA and their legal gragra until substantive lawsuits are filed to show seriousness on the part either the Army’s leadership or the person of Lt. Gen. Buratai. However, methinks, it is SaharaReporters that really need their ass kicked in a tough lawsuit, their irresponsible character assassinations are farv worse than the infractions caused by PT if one is to juxtapose both newspapers’ investigative journalism. Staying tuned… Lol!

  • Aminu Baba

    It is probably the Shiites staff in Premium times that is behind the false publications. The Shiites are habitual mischief makers and liers. If management of Premium times do nit fish them out and dismiss them, they will destroy the good publication because they are like AIDS virus anywhere they are

  • Decimator

    Contacted Wednesday for comments on the letter, Editor-in-Chief Musikilu Mojeed said, “All I can say at this point is that we stand by
    our stories. “We have passed the letter to our lawyers for appropriate response. I can assure you they (the Army) will get an appropriate response before long.”PT

    Professional and accurate response from PT; I have wondered why a should be professional and apolitical military force of a nation is busy threatening everybody or refuting allegations against them in the media , basically converting themselves to a political organ of hearsay rather than take their so called legal action if they deem a story to be defamatory or false.

    Failure to do so all along and always engaging itself with media Gossip in form of Refute and unwarranted press releases, is tantamount to owning up to every allegation or News reported about them, be it by PT, Amnesty International, CD or other human right organizations
    or Newspapers.

    It seems the military commanders want at all cost to muscle the press and scare them from reporting their massive human right abuse in their so called internal security military operations, where they go on unwarranted extrajudicial killing of innocent citizens they claim to be securing. Who knows how many newspapers or group they have succeeded in intimidating into refraining from reporting about their activities through such threats?

    It would rather be wiser for the military commanders of the Nigerian Enclave, to honorably disband their Army if they have lost focus and do not know their role any more as they keep demonstrating daily. By the way it looks likely by the day that one is coming to just that.Thanks

  • callistus u owuamanam

    Nigerian army with their autocracy, but fortunately we are in democracy, where freedom of expression, freedom of a peaceful protest, freedom of association must be respected.

  • Nkem

    Look at them threatening and demanding apology. Have they ever issued apology to anybody? Do they understand the meaning of apology? And they want to sue. So they even know the road to court. Have they ever honoured any court summons in their lives?

  • Otile

    Alhaji Mofu Ola and his egbon Julius will always play dead to this type story but get cocky whoever they hear anything concerning SS SE.