Nigerian Army vows to charge PREMIUM TIMES for ‘fraudulently obtaining’ military information

Nigerian Army

Four days after the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, caused the raiding of PREMIUM TIMES offices and the arrest of the medium’s journalists, the army has indicated its intention to file charges against the news organisation for “fraudulently obtaining and disclosure of military information.”

In a statement by its spokesperson, Sani Usman, the army accused PREMIUM TIMES of revealing military information that led to “deaths and loss of equipment.”

He did not indicate what documents were fraudulently obtained.

Mr. Usman, a brigadier general, accused the publication of “jeopardising military operations, fraudulent obtaining and disclosure of military information that led to deaths and loss of equipment.”

PREMIUM TIMES has rejected the new allegations, describing them as “wild, spurious and a desperate attempt to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it.”

“We wait for Mr. Usman to substantiate his claims so we know how to respond,” Publisher Dapo Olorunyomi said. “We wish them luck as they kept manufacturing allegations day after day. We remain focused on our work which is rooted in the best tradition of ethical and socially responsible journalism. We will not be intimidated or distracted from the important duty of enhancing our readers’ right to know.”

Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher and Chief Executive Officer, Premium Times
Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher and Chief Executive Officer, Premium Times

In his latest statement, the army spokesperson also said the arrest of the two PREMIUM TIMES journalists, Dapo Olorunyomi and Evelyn Okakwu, was not at the instance of the Army as an institution but that of Mr. Buratai, a lieutenant general.

“The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to erroneous impressions and insinuations on a libel case against the PREMIUM TIMES to whip up sentiments,” he said.

“Therefore, we wish to clarify that the issue at hand is purely allegation of libel in which PREMIUM TIMES falsely and unjustifiably accused the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, of false declaration of assets, owning mansions and estates in Dubai and further stated that he was being investigated by Code of Conduct Bureau for false declaration of assets in their publication of 12th December 2015.

“Consequently, concerted efforts were made to make Premium Times retract the story and apologize, to no avail. As a law-abiding citizen, he took appropriate legal steps of seeking redress through the courts,” the spokesperson said.

Mr. Usman did not explain why the Army chief resorted to using the police to harass the journalists instead of simply suing for libel.

The attempt to distance the Army from Mr. Buratai’s actions appears an afterthought since he has been using resources belonging to the army to prosecute his battle with this medium.

It also contradicts the Army’s letter of December 22, 2016, which accused PREMIUM TIMES of defaming the army chief.

That letter was written on the letterhead of Army Headquarters and delivered using resources belonging to the army. The army chief was also represented by serving soldiers at a meeting called by the FCT Commissioner of Abuja over his defamation complaints that led to the arrest of PREMIUM TIMES journalists.

In the letter, the Army demanded the retraction of the said stories and publication of apologies in national dailies.

PREMIUM TIMES, however, stood by its stories and asked the army and Mr. Buratai to apologise for threatening the publication and its employees.

While the Army’s suit was being expected, the police, last Thursday, acted on a complaint by Mr. Buratai, raiding the paper’s head office in Abuja, and arresting Mr. Olorunyomi and Evelyn Okakwu.

Dapo Olorunyomi and Evelyn Okakwu after being released by the Nigerian Police
Dapo Olorunyomi and Evelyn Okakwu after being released by the Nigerian Police

They were later released without charges.

 


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  • Retired Journalist

    Premium Times Editor,

    Time to end the Army-Premium Times feud

    Without any need to pass judgment on who’s been right or wrong, no good
    purpose is served by this ruckus, and thus it is time to end the spat between
    the valiant Nigerian Army and the exceptional editorial board of Premium Times.
    Nigeria needs both institutions to work optimally, not to engage in attrition
    where both are bruised and rendered less effective. Whatever went before should
    be put aside and a line drawn under it. I suggest the Army spokesman should meet
    cordially with the Publisher of Premium Times for official discussion.

    The Army will thereby have a more congenial atmosphere over lunch to put
    forward the army perspective; alerting the Premium Times to areas the army will
    prefer un-reported in the context of going war against assorted terrorists. On
    his part the Publisher of Premium Times will put forward his views on how it
    would prefer the army to relate with the newspaper in the event of security
    concern. Both men are highly educated and will more quickly reach agreement
    than to drag themselves before a third party who has neither the army
    perspective nor a publisher’s viewpoint.

  • princegab

    Buratia and his spokesman are not doing the army any good on this issue. Their jobs on the line as the best resolution to this problem.

  • tony H

    Please give them the Zakzaky treatment first. Sai Buhari! Sai Koboko for PT ati Saraki Reporters yansh.

    • Senator D

      Don’t you think frog-jumping from Dodan Barracks to Abacha Barracks would suffice? I think they (PT) will learn their lessons faster that way…

      • tony H

        LOL…if that will help them, am for it.

  • sammyctu ode

    Nigerian military you are a disgrace cos you don’t have any right to send the police to harras and detain any journalist. We are in a democracy and if any journalist has erred the courts are there for you to go to. The question is that did you guys took that illegal action to raid the offices of PT and did the president approved it? You the military can’t take a unilateral action without approval from Mr president cos you guys are under his command. Also what are the military secrets that PT leaked that led to loss of lives? You guys are being paid from public funds. We Nigerians have a right to know how much you guys are spending to execute this BH war. Your actions should not be secret anymore and you guys are responsible to Nigerians. It’s not going to be like under jonathan when buffun general’s stole $9 billion then diverted the money into private pockets building mansions, shopping malls and many illegal businesses all over Nigeria which finally plunged us into deep recession. For 38 years our so called military stole and looted us blind which set Nigeria back by two centuries while the useless illiterate general’s became multi billionaires.

  • I did it 4 Love

    Oh I weep for my country, Nigeria is now back to Buhari / Idiagbon time where Burutai has become Idiagbon.
    What is legislative and Judicial arm of govt doing about all these rubbish?

    • Gary

      What can they do? With Saraki facing a trumped up trial to hold him to ransom and now appears to be playing ball with Buhari to end it? With a NASS full of people with skeletons in their cupboards and fearful of Buhari’s cousins and kinsmen in charge of the Police and national security?
      With Justice Onnoghen left dangling as ag. CJN while Buhari runs out the clock on his confirmation for another Moslem Northerner to take his place?

      Why won’t Buratai think he is now a law unto himself when there’s nobody willing to hold him accountable to civilian control under our constitution? Did anything happen to him when he massacred hundreds of Shiites and Biafra protesters?

      The media is just waking up to the fact that they helped elect a man who cannot govern within the confines of a democracy. Muhammadu Buhari and his henchmen are now turning Nigeria into a Police State.
      Right under the noses of the people. Expect worse things to follow once they corall Saraki and Dogara to do their bidding then even their actions will have the force of law. Just like Yahyah Jammeh had with his rubberstamp parliament in The Gambia.

      • Senator D

        Am just worried over your points raised… Am really disturbed!

      • absam777

        Correction: Saraki is not facing a trumped up trial. He is as guilty as charged. Shine your eyes.

  • Sword of Damocles

    The NA needs to learn simple lessons that civilized society learned LONG TIME AGO;
    1) they are subservient to civilians PERIOD
    2) The most sustainable reason for the existence of Nation States is to promote the FUNDAMENTAL human rights of its citizen .
    Atleast the people that created the system of Law that Nigeria adheres to believe this CANON: that’s why the burden put on the State in order to argue for Proscription of a citizen’s rights is VERY HIGH(see the 1st 10 Amendments to the US Constitution, or any Supreme Court ruling on the 4th Amendment specifically). (because they no they play with that thing)
    . The NA is going to have to prove in Court what they have stated in this piece. And it will be like a “camel passing through a needle’s eye.
    They should do more training so that they do not strafe any more IDP camps rather than having a verbal “war” with UNARMED journalists. accidental discharge??

  • thusspokez

    The Nigerian army should concentrate on fighting terrorists and not the media because in today’s world even an army with a very sophisticated public relation department (compared to the crude and backward Nigerian army) cannot win the media war.

    Today, for a very small sum of money, anyone could have their own online newspaper or use facebook or twitters and become a critic. How do the Nigerian army intend to use part of its military budget which is meant for fighting wars to prosecute its critics worldwide?

    Buratai, I say again, I would be worried if I were you because, you could be spending your last years on earth in prison for abuse of human rights.

  • Otile

    Whatever happened to “Change Starts With Me” scheme which cost the
    government a lot of oil money? I can’t believe the scheme died on
    arrival simply because Imam committed plagiarism while selling the idea
    to people.

    • Mufu Ola

      Trade mark.You’re never off the frivolity radar.

  • Senator D

    Dear General Turkur Brutality (Sorry I meant to say General Turkur Buratai) Don’t you think frog-jumping PT people from Dodan Barracks to Abacha Barracks would suffice? I think they (PT) will learn their lessons faster that way…Instead of going to court to intimidate those Judges again…

  • Mufu Ola

    The Army has right to complain but must be lawful about it.Premier Times too must be responsible & stop sensationalism. PT need be careful because soon fairminded & discerning readers may start to doubt their stories about the Army & Buratai since PT seem to have position itself as a sort of anti Army.It doesn’t matter if the appellation is fair or not but the moment that impression is created, the credibility of stories about Buratai and the Army will be doubtful.