The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has stated that its intelligence agency (DIA) ‘invited’ a retired navy commodore, Kunle Olawunmi, so he can share the information he has with the agency.
The DHQ stated this in a statement on Saturday by the Director of Defence Information, Benjamin Sawyerr, a major-general.
The invitation follows an interview Mr Olawunmi granted Channels Television where he criticised the handling of Nigeria’s security situation under President Muhammadu Buhari and made some allegations against the federal government.
The DHQ, however, said it did not declare the retired commodore wanted contrary to media reports.
Mr Sawyerr did not state if Mr Olawunmi was free to refuse the ‘invitation’ and what actions the agency would take if he refused to honour such invite.
Sahara Reporters had reported that Mr Olawunmi was declared wanted for allegedly exposing how President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration refused to probe high profile politicians whom Boko Haram terrorists named as their sponsors.
The newspaper also reported that the retired officer was asked to come to the DIA headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday with his international passport, which may be seized.
The retired officer spoke in an interview on Channels Television programme “Sunrise Daily” in reaction to the recent attack at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) where two officers were killed and another officer abducted by suspected bandits.
Following the interview granted by the retired officer, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) queried Channels TV for what it described as a violation of Nigeria’s broadcasting code.
The violation, according to the NBC, was also observed when the TV station hosted Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, who allegedly made “inciting, divisive and unfair comments”.
On the programme, Mr Ortom expressed his displeasure about the growing insecurity in the country and accused President Muhammadu Buhari of an agenda to “fulanise” the country.
In the query signed by its director general, Balarabe Ilelah, the NBC accused Channels TV of not “thoroughly interrogating” the comments made by Governor Ortom and the Mr Olawunmi.
Invitation not arrest
Reacting to the report, the DHQ said it only sent an SMS to the retired officer, inviting him to shed more light on some of the information he has which according to them may aid the fight against insecurity in the country.
Mr Sawyerr also said the retired officer was not asked to come along with his international passport.
He described the report by the news outlet as “scandalous and malicious,” adding that the proposed meeting was just an agency-stakeholder relationship.
“The attention of the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has been drawn to an online news publication by Sahara Reporters alleging that the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) ordered the arrest of retired Cdre Kunle Olawunmi for recently appearing on Channels Television programme (Sunrise Daily).
“The Armed Forces may not want to join issues with Sahara Reporters for the scandalous and malicious publication insinuating that it’s Agency has ordered the arrest of Cdre Olawunmi (rtd) for sharing his views on matters of defence and national security.
“It is gratifying to state that the retired military officer who is on the military reserve list was only invited via SMS and voice by DIA to further furnish the AFN with relevant and pressing security information which he may be opportuned to have knowledge of as a Professor of Global Security Studies.
“The said proposed meeting between DIA and the retired senior Navy officer was intended to get credible tips on boosting the fight against terrorism/insurgency, banditry and sundry crimes. He was not asked to come along with his international passport. This in no way constitute any form of arrest speculated by Sahara Reporters.
“It is very sad that an online media like Sahara Reporters would capitalize on a proposed meeting between an agency and it’s stakeholder to paint the story in a manner intended to portray the military as draconic government agency acting in a crude manner,” the statement partly read.
The DHQ also used the opportunity to re-invite the retired officer to come forward with his valuable information which it said would aid in the fight against insecurity.
“In this regard, I wish to use this medium to encourage the retired senior officer to come forward to give valuable information to the military authorities as a patriotic citizen who has served meritoriously in Nigerian Navy in various capacities before retirement.”
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