Army Spokesperson visits PREMIUM TIMES, seeks synergy with media

Army Spokesperson, Brigadier-General Sani Usman

Sani Usman, the spokesman for the Nigerian Army, came calling at PREMIUM TIMES head office in Abuja Monday to interact with editors of the newspaper and make the case for an expanded and cordial army-media relationship in the country.

The visit was aimed at normalizing the relationship between the military and the investigative platform after weeks of tension between the two parties.

Mr. Usman, a brigadier general, who was welcomed by Dapo Olorunyomi, publisher and CEO of PREMIUM TIMES, said he was particularly proud of the newspaper’s “unique professionalism and ethical conduct” which he said defined it and gave it a place of honour within the nation’s media ecosystem.

“I am very proud of the fact that PREMIUM TIMES does not accept brown envelope,” Mr. Usman said.

Welcoming Mr. Usman, Mr. Olorunyomi said frequent interface between the Army and the media, especially PREMIUM TIMES, would engender a better relationship among the two organisations, and the broader Nigerian society.

“Engagement and access are highly essential to the work we both do, but more importantly to the development and deepening of our democracy which the two institutions have a constitutional mandate to promote,” Mr. Olorunyomi said.

In his response, Mr. Usman said he was “highly impressed by the human resources available at PREMIUM TIMES.”

The visit came two months after the Nigerian Army wrote to PREMIUM TIMES to demand retraction and apology for some of the stories published by the paper.

After the paper wrote back to reject the Army’s demand, a team of police officers stormed its offices in Abuja, arresting Mr. Olorunyomi and Evelyn Okakwu, a judiciary correspondent.

The journalists were released on the same day and the matter was resolved by the police the next day. No charges were filed.

In his reaction to those developments and several other issues of contention between the two parties, Mr. Usman said his visit was to turn a new leaf in the relationship and communication management between PREMIUM TIMES’ journalists and the military authorities.

Army Spokesperson, Brigadier-General Sani Usman with PREMIUM TIMES Publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi and Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed

He blamed past disagreements on “communication gap” and described it as an “unfortunate” situation.

In his reaction, Musikilu Mojeed, the Editor-in-Chief, said PREMIUM TIMES greatly appreciates the efforts of the Nigerian Army in fostering peace and unity in a diverse entity like Nigeria amidst unprecedented security challenges.

“At no time in our history has the Nigerian Army faced an unconventional war of this magnitude,” Mr. Mojeed said of the threat posed by Boko Haram. “If there’s no peace and security, PREMIUM TIMES, as indeed most businesses in this country will not have a conducive atmosphere to operate.”

Mr. Mojeed, however, noted that PREMIUM TIMES had done a lot to project the image of Nigerian Army as a capable and professional organisation.

He urged the leadership of the Army, and indeed the entire military, to understand that PREMIUM TIMES would never abandon its responsibility of holding officials accountable and advocating for good treatment for our troops.

“Once we understand each other’s constitutional roles, and responsibilities to society, there will be little or no conflict,” Mr. Mojeed said.

Mr. Usman concluded by saying that the “Nigerian Army has never been this transparent with information” and urged PREMIUM TIMES to be more considerate in its reportage.

“PREMIUM TIMES is a credible medium and whatever you publish will be taken as gospel truth by many,” he said.

For this reason, he urged editors of the paper to show understanding and exercise restraint while reporting sensitive operational challenges of the army.

The Managing Editor, Idris Akinbajo, and Assistant Managing Editors Ini Ekott and Bisi Abidoye, were also present at the meeting. So also were the paper’s Deputy Head, Digital Strategy and Technology, Richard Akinwumi, and Head, Innovation and Knowledge, Joshua Olufemi.


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  • thusspokez

    Sani Usman, the spokesman for the Nigerian Army, came calling at PREMIUM TIMES head office in Abuja Monday to interact with editors of the newspaper and make the case for an expanded and cordial army-media relationship in the country.

    Shame on the Nigerian army which tried to bully, threatened physical harm, and also threatened court case against PT but still failed to intimidate the latter. I told it at the time that in the modern Information age, such churlish threats are doomed to fail and will only draw more fire from social media all across the world.

    The visit is unethical. Indeed it is outrageous. Why did PT even allow the visit? Who invited the spokesman or did he invite himself? I hope that he had not arrived with brown envelopes on behalf of the ‘Snake farmer’?

    • Mobolade Omonijo

      There’s nothing unethical about visits to media houses by security agencies. In fact, they should be encouraged as a means of promoting greater understanding among institutions. Who initiated it? Does it matter? All that is needed is, if it was at the instance of the Army spokesman, he ought to inform the newspaper an appointment. We all must learn to be tolerant. In this case, all is well that ends well.

      • thusspokez

        There’s nothing unethical about visits to media houses by security agencies.

        Often as raiders of media houses.

        In fact, they should be encouraged as a means of promoting greater understanding among institutions.

        In which case, the army should invite the newspapers (in plural) to its office rather than paying separate visits to them. This is the right way things should be done to discount any notion of schmoozing.

        We all must learn to be tolerant. In this case, all is well that ends well.

        The visit raised my eyebrows as will undoubtedly, be of eyebrows of many who learn about it.

        • Impulse400

          I agree… the visit not only raised my eyebrows, it raised my nostrils.

  • Akin Caulcrick

    Premium Times please tell the Soja to tell his hungry troops to subject themselves to civil rule and deepen democracy by paying bus fares in Lagos and stop the ‘ogboju’ afterall they receive Transport Allowance! Let us start with that, otherwise I personally see the visit for what it is – cosmetic!

    • Gary

      Sorry sir, I disagree. The least society can do for those who willingly put their lives on the line for the rest of us, is to cut them some slack and show them our appreciation for their service.

      Letting our soldiers ride free on public transport will not bankrupt the operators; especially now that the country is at war with Jihadi terrorists who have killed thousands of citizens and troops.

      Let’s show our soldiers some love when they are not brutalizing or shooting civilians. They just might respond with better behavior in dealing with the public.

      • tsunami1earthquake

        You are reversing the situation. The soldiers must always show love to the civilians first. Observations have shown that many civilians respect the military but the latter want to show that they are superior in all respects. That’s not supposed to be the behaviour of the military. The military must understand that their existence rests on the civilians and so must first respect and even bow to the civilians who are the masters here.

        If the military first show respect to the civilians, nothing should stop civilians from reciprocating this respect. Again, saying that the military put their lives on the line is something arguable and, in fact, not tenable argument. Even the military themselves have said that being in the military is not something compulsory; so one must not take it that the membership of the military is something like doing the nation a favour. It is the job they have chosen to do, just as someone has chosen to be a lawyer, a doctor, etc. Period! So the military must not be treated as special breed or sacred cows. No, sir, it never happens that way!

        Members of the military have been riding free in public town buses; but this should not be so because nothing should exempt them from paying their bus fares. You have said allowing them free fare would not bankrupt the bus operators, but you did not say that the military members would not become beggars if ever they should pay their bus fares! The civilians have not become beggars by paying their bus fares; so why should members of the military become beggars or go bankrupt if they paid their bus fares?

        Let us understand that the military is a profession, just like law, medicine, engineering, etc are professions. And becoming members of these various professions is not compulsory. So why must we arrogate to the military as something coming out of the hands of a special creator and then giving its members undue, unmerited and bloated privilege? Any able-bodied person could enlist in the military if ever such a person would desire. So, it’s no big deal; it’s only a matter of choice.

        This unmerited privilege has gone into the heads of the military chaps and has made them believe they can treat civilians (their masters) like a piece of shit! That is what the society must stop! Period!

        • Gary

          I understand but totally disagree with your position on a moral equivalence between soldiering and any other occupation a citizen freely pursues.

          There’s a reason why even societies with enlisted armies still have the compulsory draft and conscription into the military. You cannot have a peaceful or safe country to engage in other pursuits without an Army that protects the territory and people of the nation. Go ask the people of Israel or your fellow citizens in Northeast Nigeria.

          Unfortunately, the Nigerian Army is a reflection of the society at large. An undisciplined society unwilling to enthrone the rule of law, due process and competence cannot build an Army that respects the rights of the citizens.
          Not after decades of brutal military rule and the return of the same half-educated and thuggish Generals as civilian Presidents.
          But I insist that change has to start from somewhere. And letting soldiers currently bearing the brunt of keeping Boko Haram at bay to ride free on publ C transport is not asking for too much.
          They will not be brutalizing and disrespecting the citizens if Buhari was not elected President and brought his men back into the streets of Nigeria in the name of internal security.
          They were mostly restricted to their barracks under Jonathan and his predecessors. OBJ however deployed soldiers to sack Odi and Zaki Biam.
          See a pattern here?

          Stop voting for soldiers to govern you if you don’t want them oppressing the citizens of the country. One more lesson for Nigerian voters to learn that soldiers, of the Nigerian type, don’t make good democrats.

      • Olu

        Well, i don’t have any issue with them enjoying free ride, they should know it is not a right, but respect and since respect is reciprocal, they should know how to return same.

        But there’s been improvement, in fact the visit and many other progress recorded are proof of that.

      • Akin Caulcrick

        No sir! Not them! They are being paid transport allowance. I’d rather have the NYSC ride free! The sojas take the rides by force and only in Lagos mind you. Joining the army is by choice you may as well give them free food in all bukas!

  • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

    He went to compromise the free media. PREMIUMTIMES MUST NOT BE COMPROMISED TO SING AND DANCE TO THE TUNES OF A MILITARY FAMOUS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS OFFENCES.

  • Champ

    Just because Buhari is sick and away…loll

  • Olu

    When you know and sure of what you are doing, and doing it to the best of your ability with all sincerity, people will acknowledge your good work. They may try to pull you down but if you remain steadfast, you will always raise your head up and people who disagree with you will eventually come to agree with you. Thank you PREMIUM TIMES. Please keep up the good work as it is already speaking for you.

  • Impulse400

    Is it that the Army has repented or they have replaced the intoxicated officials guilty of molesting Premium Times in the past…?