14 August 2018

Nigeria: How Premium Times Editor-in-Chief Was Manhandled for Defending Reporter's Rights

Photo: Nigeria Police Force
Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Abuja

An operative of the police Special Anti-robbery Squad, (SARS) on Monday physically assaulted PREMIUM TIMES editor-in-chief, Musikilu Mojeed, as he tried to defend a reporter from being harassed at the SARS headquarters, Abuja.

The police, through SARS, had on Saturday verbally requested that a reporter, Azeezat Adedigba, who covers the education beat appear before it on Monday morning over a 'criminal investigation' it was carrying out. PREMIUM TIMES later found out that this was a subterfuge to get at another reporter, Samuel Ogundipe, over a recent report he authored.

PREMIUM TIMES management had earlier insisted that the invitation request to Ms Adedigba be formally sent so she could report as requested.

As early as 10 a.m. on Tuesday, the reporter, in the company of Mr Mojeed and another staffer was at the SARS headquarters, Guzape, but was told the investigating officer, Emmanuel Onyeneho, was not available.

An armed aggressive operative (ostensibly acting on directives), who attended to the team, violently seized Ms Adedigba's phone even when Mr Mojeed expressed willingness to wait with the reporter for the officer to know the reason for the invite.

The irate officer, in a sudden violent move to get at the phone, which was briefly in the hands of Mr Mojeed, shoved at him, physically manhandling him and threatening to "deal" with him even as he wielded a loaded gun. When told the reporter was not under arrest by a calm Mr Mojeed, the officer sneered and simply told the journalist not to go beyond a certain point or he would be dealt with.

After Ms Adedigba was led in, the editor and a staffer had to wait for over four hours before investigating officer, Emmanuel Onyeneho, eventually sauntered in at about 2 p.m.

Subsequently, the official, who initially declined giving details on the reason for the invitation, requested that Ms Adedigba dial a number, he provided, with her phone. The dialled number turned out to be that of Mr Ogundipe. The official requested that Mr Mojeed ask Mr Ogundipe to come over, a request the editor immediately obliged.

Immediately, Mr Ogundipe came in, Ms Adedigba was allowed to go while Messrs Mojeed and Ogundipe were detained.

It was at this point that the two were notified that the police were investigating the source of the interim report sent by the IGP on Mr Daura as published by PREMIUM TIMES.

They were subsequently driven to the IGP Monitoring Unit at Force Headquarters where Mr Ogundipe was detained.

Mr Ogundipe is currently being pressed to disclose his source for the report, a request he has declined. He has now been moved to the SARS headquarters where he is being detained while Mr Mojeed was released.

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