The security operatives who sealed the Abuja office of a cable and satellite broadcaster, CoreTV, early Friday morning were not from the State Security Service, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
The operatives were from the Mobile Unit of the Police, witnesses said, out to enforce a quit notice arising from a land dispute decided by the Supreme Court.
Workers had arrived the television station along Sokode Crescent, Zone 5, Wuse in Abuja on Friday morning to discover their offices broken into and their broadcasting and other equipment allegedly carted away.
Following the discovery, Olajide Adediran, the Managing Director of CoreTV, had told PREMIUM TIMES that the operatives had shut down the station and barricaded the area during the operation around 4:00 a.m. Friday, even though the media house had no history with the secret police.
But it later emerged that the broadcast media organisation was caught in a dispute over the land on which the building housing its rented office was constructed.
Three buildings, including the plaza where CoreTV had its offices, were sealed in execution of the quit notice.
A cameraman with CoreTV, Adeniyi Adeshina, told PREMIUM TIMES that the operatives arrived the location with some hoodlums and evacuated the properties in their building.
“I left office at about 10 p.m. last night without any sign of a quit notice. At about 6:a.m when I assumed duty today, I saw a notice on the building’s main entrance stating that we should evacuate the building within 12 hours of the notice,” Mr. Adeshina said.
It is not clear why the police did not give adequate notice to the occupants of the building before the eviction and why their properties had to be broken into, damaged and stolen.
The dispute over the land had been on since 1996 until it was decided by the Supreme Court.
Apart from the U.L.O Plaza in which CoreTV had its offices, two other buildings occupied by several businesses were forcibly evacuated on Friday.
The exercise led to damages to the buildings and loss of valuable items in the offices and business centres located in them.
MEDIA NOT PRIMARY TARGET
Mr. Adediran also confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES Friday evening that CoreTV was only caught in the controversy of a long-standing dispute over the ownership of the property amongst two different landlords.
He also confirmed that police officers conducted the raid and not operatives of the State Security Service as he had earlier stated.
“A few witnesses around the neighbourhood told me that the men were from the SSS,” Mr. Adediran said. “Unfortunately, that turned out not to be accurate.”
“They’re actually police officers and acted based on a court order that granted one of the parties fighting over the property the power to possess it,” he added.
Mr. Adediran said his medium was not the primary target.
“No, we’re not being particularly targeted,” he said. “This is because other offices in the premises were raided and their items also taken away.”
But he expressed strong reservations about the timing of the police action.
“It was clearly not properly timed. They should not have done this in the dead of the night.”
Mr. Adeniran told PREMIUM TIMES the police moved computers, digital cameras, and other files from his offices during the operation, which took place around 4:00 a.m. Friday.
When contacted, the Abuja Police spokesman, Anjuguri Mamza, said he was not aware of the raid.