Presidency defends military attack on Nigerian newspapers, exonerates Jonathan

Nigerian soldiers on guard in Maiduguri

“…as soon as there is significant reduction in the level of the security alert, the ongoing exercise will be relaxed.”

In its first official reaction to the attacks being carried out by soldiers on newspapers, the presidency on Saturday defended the Nigerian military and denied that President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the attacks.

Soldiers on Friday and Saturday seized and in some cases destroyed thousands of copies of several newspapers including Leadership, The Nation, and Punch Newspapers. The general distribution centre for all newspapers in Area 1, Abuja, was also sealed by soldiers on Saturday. Several newspapers circulation staff were also harassed and detained in the process.

The military on Friday claimed the attacks were security checks based on intelligence it received that materials with grave security implications were to be distributed alongside the newspapers. The military neither mentioned the materials, nor said it found any; but continued with the attacks on Saturday.

While Nigerians and several groups have been condemning the attacks, President Jonathan’s Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, who addressed the media in his office on Saturday, justified the attacks saying they were “isolated incidents of security checks.”

Mr. Okupe said newspaper publications that the president ordered the clampdown were untrue.

“We wish to state categorically that these reports are untrue, unfair and totally not in consonance with the posture of Mr. President on issues concerning Press freedom,” he said.

He said President Jonathan holds the media in very high regards and has demonstrated so in various ways in the last three years; including by signing the Freedom of Information Act in 2011.

The presidential aide also said restated the military’s claims that the newspapers were being targeted not because of their contents.

“The reported incidence of checks being carried out by the military on major Nigerian roads and cities is not targeted at newspaper vans because of the contents of the publications as insinuated in the reports,” he said. “Rather, the military had explained that those routine checks were being carried out following intelligence reports on the possibility of some elements within the society using such vehicles to convey “materials with grave security implications across the country”.

“While we sympathize with media houses which might have suffered one discomfort or the other as a result of these security checks. We assert, for the avoidance of doubt, that the President has not and will never give any order capable of hampering the smooth running of any media organization or harass media practitioners in the lawful performance of their duties,” he said.

According to Mr. Okupe, the government will neither engage in nor encourage any acts that will constitute an assault on any media organization or infringe on the freedom of the press.

The aide also gave an indication that the attacks may continue, saying, “We have received assurances from the military that no personal liberties of media practitioners or their employees will be unlawfully tampered with and that as soon as there is significant reduction in the level of the security alert, the ongoing exercise will be relaxed.”

“We live in very trying times which may necessitate that some section or sectors of the society might experience some temporary discomfort in the overall interest of ensuring that the ideals of freedom, peace and security which we all hold dear will not be compromised by a few unscrupulous elements in our midst,” he said.


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  • Dan maikoko

    That what happen when dimwits run a countries security system. In the age of the internet you cant stop information by seizing and burning newspapers. These papers have online versions, remember?

    • MathewBabs

      Them be mumu

    • Tola

      The internet can really be stopped if goverment wants.

  • aliflabconsults

    You found no incriminating materials in those van but you went ahead to destroy and confiscate all the copies of the newspaper….welldone!

    • eduetok

      Some media houses are shouting that their papers are being confiscated and destroyed all over the country,yet the newspapers keep flooding everywhere across the nation. My people,let us reason together! Could it be that the security agencies are just conducting searches on the newspapers’ distribution vans across the country based on credible intelligence that arms,explosives or other prohibited items are being conveyed to targeted areas in newspaper vans? Could it be that these terrorists or theirs sponsors in high places are so alarmed that the army is abreast with this novel method of conveyance and trying to checkmate it, that they are crying wolf over nothing? Alleging a nonexisting war on the media? Trying to sway public opinion against the security agencies to stop them from carrying out their lawful function. If there is a “war” against the media as alleged,how come we have all these newspapers on the stands? How come no newspaper house,TV/Radio station have been closed down? Despite the reports of media ppl being arrested,how come no media house has released the name or names of their staff/distributors under arrest? Let’s think before we condemn pls. I took time to call my friends and acquaintances across the country,and all confirmed the availability of newspapers at their locations. Nigerians,think,think,think!

  • arewethishopeless

    Educated beyond their intelligence ……
    Jonathan, go ahead, burn the internet as well ….. Dunce with a capital D …

  • sunshine

    Is this punishment for refusing to support d bid to rewrite the constitution? Tyranny does nt start in one day. We dey watch

  • Lanre

    I don’t use Twitter. But can someone start Hashtag #ImpeachJonathanNow. You can thank me later. Since Okupe has said this let me now add this: All you Yorubamen taking part in this show of shame, you all will be disgraced at the end of the day: Whether it is Abati, Okupe,Laleye, Olukolade. Speak the Truth! Just because of what we will eat! Patience is ordering you all around. Shame on Nigeria!

    • Harry

      Many of you guys that make comment on Premium times or other platforms about Jonathan’s incompetence and weakness have never wanted him. Lanre, I can say that you have never voted for Jonathan and I am sure you will still not vote for him come 2015. What I am trying to say is that majority of Nigerian voters do not have thesame opinion as you haters of Jonathan so, he will still win. There is nothing he does that is right in your sight. You insult life out him. He is still the president of your country and should be respected. If he is that dumb it means majority of Nigerians are dumps because they put him there. He did not put himself there. What was OBJ looking at when he used his influence to get him there? Is Soludo, Okorocha, Donald Duke, ken Nnamani etc not there? So, enough of this insults and campaign of hatred against the president.

      • Ayo

        @Harry 2011 election was not free and fair and you know it

    • JayGeeEx

      Go and learn to use Twitter and do it yourself… it can’t be that hard for someone who knows so much like you now…

      • Lanre

        Smart point. I leave that to the Social Media Activists. I am not one. Besides commenting on sites like this, I am deeply engrossed in work for our new nation.

    • Mogul

      I triple dare you to start it!

  • Patriotic Dom

    Yesterday most people on this forum where quick to judge the president and even conclude that he gave the orders to seize newspapers and impound their distribution van… In as much as the president is the c in c of the armed forces, must we villify him for moral ineptitude of any combatant… There is what I know the military call rule of engagement and sometimes combatants due to their own personal moral decadence may violate such rules… The c in c becomes culpable in such case if he fails to sanction the acts through the right military procedures… Sometimes in 2012 , some american soldiers in afghanistan posed for photo shuts while urinating on dead afghan militants, the soldiers were condemned for their acts and not Obama, no body said Obama gave such directive… If a soldier or let’s say soldiers in the event of doing his assigned operation of condone and search starts harrasing the people around , do we automatically assume that it was a directive from the top… Sometimes ago people were shouting foul about the intelligence capability of the security forces… Now they said they are working based on a piece of information and you are here villifying them for doing their job… For desperate com enters who all see me as a potential autocrat or dictator I want to make it clear that I also condemn the isolated acts of soldiers harrasing the newspaper vendors and the distribution vans… If they find nothing incriminating on them, they should let them go… For the association of editors trying to condemn the entire security procedure saying they do not carry bombs but information , I want to tell you that criminal elements can disguise to be anything to perpetuate their terror… Or have you forgotten that the kidnappers of chibok girls were allegedly disguised as soldiers… I even suggest that some of these longconvoy of some political office holders should also be searched a times because as things stands now any body can be boko haram…. Including some senators who in the past have been associated with terrorist living in their house… The senators will also probably say we do not harbour terrorists, we make laws

    • nija pikin

      Are you really leaving in Nigeria or what are you smoking for you to vomit this rubbish pls shine your eye this is all about 2015 election it has nothing to do with security nonsense. Shakau is moving freely in SAMBISA forest with AK 47 And you are here harassing innocent citizens,

  • Anthony Igweze

    Very soon all the online media will be closed down.
    They are trying to cover up their ineficiency to combat the bh sect.we are watching.

  • Screw-em

    Zombie ooh …Zombie!!!…..FELA, FELA!!!…..where are thou?

    Folks. the final days of this dweeb for a “Leader” will be filled with atrocious, despicable and desperate acts like these to ensure he hangs on to “power” at all cost and by any means necessary, but l can assure him that his days are numbered. …..217 more agonizing days to go. Just can’t wait,… just can’t freaking WAIT!!!!

    • Pronto

      If you wait you will have to be very patient o; because you may have to keep waiting. If you say Jonathan should leave, who will take over from him- Buhari or Atiku? You must be kidding if you think so? If Jonathan leaves and he is relpaced by one of this northern lunatics, do you think south south people will be waching like mumu? Guy, it means you should get ready for the south south version of Boko Haram o. Instead of APC in this country, I prefer a military regime…

      • Babs

        What are you saying? South-south and Jonathan are the real Boko Haram in disguise.

      • sunkanu

        Is not only the south south ppl that voted him to power and before he occupie the seat many ppl had occupied and left. If Nigerians decide to vote him out no fisher man will make him president.
        And wait! Are u talking about south south version of boko haram? I will support you in prayers to have a replica boko haram in the south south. May you fisher men experience the kidnapping of your school children, may you experience the destruction of villages just as it is happening in the north east. May you ppl face the harrasment and casualty of military wickedness the way NE ppl experience, may you experience frequent explosion of bombs in your cities. May you face the close down of schoolss, banks and bussineses with resulting economic hardship in the south-south.
        Am waiting to hear your “ameen” as you want it.

        • yahaya muhammad

          ameen! god bless you sunkanu

      • Adebayo Afolabi

        what is the % of south south people that voted the president in. You people should stop this nonsense about south south, the entire vote of south south can never and will never make a president in this country.

  • Omo Akin

    To Doyin Okupe:
    But on the second day of the madness, the army confiscated newspapers from the newsstands. So is whatever the army is looking for now in the newspapers and not in the vehicles?
    To Nigerian Press:
    Here are two ways to deal with this madness. (1) Black out the Federal Govt. Leave NTA and FRCN to carry Fed Govt activities. But all other members of the press – print, radio, TV should not cover any activity of the Fed Govt or its agencies. (2) get CNN, BBC and ABC to cover the madness going on in the country.
    God Bless Nigeria.

  • Teekay

    I advise the Media to immediately report the incidence of the Nigerian Army led by Goodluck Jonathan to the World Media News like CNN, AL-JAZEERA, BBC etc. Let them know that Jonathan have started intimidating the Nigerian citizens opposed to his re election due to his lack lustre perfomances.

    • Ganhdi

      But this is just a childs play when compared to what Buhari did when he was head of states. When Buhari was treating Nigerians like goats Nobody called BBC. When OBJ wiped out a whole village in Bayelsa, and Benue Nobody called UN. Hmmmmmm

    • JayGeeEx

      I advice you to start a blog and do it yourself if it means that much to you…

  • Thepeople

    Wake up fellow Nigerians for the clamp down has started. Use your internet, facebook, and twitter to alert world of the evil intentions of the Military and this government. The government is testing the waters for the greater evil plans they have for this country come the elections. The time to act is now. Do not say you were not warned.They plan to use the military to intimidate, harrass, terrorize, and suppress the will of the people. This is action plan of the President and the vile, despicable, desperate sycophants that we call leaders in Nigeria.

    • kameel

      You forget something. They can easily block those channels too.

  • zubairu usman

    The ongoing routine exercise on flow of news in Nigerian Nation wld put the Citizens incommunicado, thus that the Country reversing back to the uncivilised days.

  • eduetok

    Some media houses are shouting that their papers are being confiscated and destroyed all over the country,yet the newspapers keep flooding everywhere across the nation. My people,let us reason together! Could it be that the security agencies are just conducting searches on the newspapers’ distribution vans across the country based on credible intelligence that arms,explosives or other prohibited items are being conveyed to targeted areas in newspaper vans? Could it be that these terrorists or theirs sponsors in high places are so alarmed that the army is abreast with this novel method of conveyance and trying to checkmate it, that they are crying wolf over nothing? Alleging a nonexisting war on the media? Trying to sway public opinion against the security agencies to stop them from carrying out their lawful function. If there is a “war” against the media as alleged,how come we have all these newspapers on the stands? How come no newspaper house,TV/Radio station have been closed down? Despite the reports of media ppl being arrested,how come no media house has released the name or names of their staff/distributors under arrest?

    • JayGeeEx

      3-course staple diet for most Nigerians when it comes to news. Hook, Line and Sinker.

    • Adebayo Afolabi

      You could be right but if searched and found nothing why destroying the papers. Remember it cost a lot or are they going to pay. We should try doing the right things, all these will not help the president.

      • eduetok

        Which papers were destroyed? How come the vendors were selling the said ‘destroyed’ papers all over Nigeria?

  • gigopp

    Just goes a long way to show the backward thinking of our institutions. In these days of social media how do u silence a newspaper or even a story.

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  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    President Ebele Jonathan,is a bad luck to Nigeria democracy and a huge disappointment to those South-West led activists who led the democracy fight and paid daringly with their blood which enthrone civilian governance which has now been hijacked by corrupt-ridden autocrats led by PDP-Ebele Jonathan and his ethnic/tribal/religion bigots whose main passion in governance is looting,thieving and embezzling our national commonwealth.
    Nigerian armed forcfes are the tools in hands of clueless,ineffective and inept president Ebele Jonathan against Nigerian newspapers and media,instead of Nigerian armed forces to confront the Boko Haram insurgents to free those abducted Government secondary school 276-girls.President Jonathan is the worst president that ever occupied Nigerian presidential seat.

  • frog2222

    Is this the military’s way of opposing Jonathan’s??