Yesterday, reports went viral that Daily Trust office in Borno and Abuja were surrounded by the Army with no reason as of then. It was later learnt it wasn’t just the two branches, but others inclusive.
According to the military men, they went to invite the organisation’s journalists responsible for the publication of a classified military operation plan.
The siege was however lifted by 9.30pm on Sunday, following the order of the Federal Government, but it was not clear whether the computers carted away from the Abuja headquarters have been returned.
Spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman explained on Monday that the disclosure of classified information by the newspaper undermined national security hence its reporters responsible were being invited for questioning.
See the full statement below:
The Nigerian Army wishes to clarify on alleged invasion of Media Trust Headquarters in Abuja and regional office in Maiduguri. We would like to state that soldiers of the Nigerian Army along with elements of Nigeria Police Force and other Security Agencies were indeed at Abuja and Maiduguri offices of the publishing company to invite the staff of the company over its lead story on Sunday Trust publication, which divulged classified military information, thus undermining national security.
In it, the newspaper made disclosed details of planned military operations against the Boko Haram terrorists. The disclosure of classified security information amounts to a breach of national security and run contrary to Sections 1 and 2 of the Official Secrets Act. It afforded the Boko Haram terrorists prior notice of our plans and giving them early warning to prepare against the Nigerian military, thus sabotaging the planned operations and putting the lives of troops in imminent and clear danger.
We would like to state that the invitation of those responsible for divulging military plans was done with the best of intention in order to make them realise the import of such acts to our national security. We therefore advice all, particularly journalists, not to worry but engage in their responsive reportage and to be professional as the Nigerian Army has no intention of muzzling the press or jeopardising press freedom.
We however, wish to enjoin further that they should eschew jeopardizing national security in their reportage. We would not tolerate situation where a publication would consistently side with terrorists and undermine our National institutions.
We wish to appeal to all, especially the media, to join hands with the Nigerian military and security forces to end terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria. We would like to further assure that the invitation is for further investigation and if need be, all those culpable of jeopardising operations security will be prosecuted by the relevant law enforcement agency.
You are please requested to disseminate this information to the public through your medium.
Thank you for your kind cooperation.
SANI KUKASHEKA USMAN
Director Army Public Relations