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.”
“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.”