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Attacks On The Media In April 2000


TheNEWS Magazine Alleges Threat By IBB

The management of Independent Communications Network Limited (ICNL), publishers of PM News, an evening tabloid; TheNEWS and Tempo magazines on April 13 alerted security agents and Nigerians that Nigeria’s former military president, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangada is threatening it over the publication of an alleged multi billion-dollar scam in its April 17, 2000 edition.

 

Editor-in-Chief of TheNEWS magazine, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, issued the alert in a press statement. He said that various sources close to General Babangida had called the ICNL office to warn it to be prepared for series of attacks on him, his editors and workers and their interests.

 

TheNEWS magazine in the said edition alleged that findings of Nigeria’s soccer star based in London, John Fashanu, showed that General Babangida was involved in a scam of debt buy-back amounting to several billions of dollars.

 

Mr. Onanuga in his statement said: “Apparently, this publication irked General Babangida. In the last three days, two different sources close to Babangida called us independently warning us to be prepared for a series of attacks from Babangida and his agents. Some of the attacks may be physical, some may not.”

 

Youths Attack Vanguard Correspondent

The Warri (Delta State) Correspondent of the Vanguard newspapers, Mr. Neville Omorighoye, was on April 15 attacked by eight Isoko youths in Warri for reporting the findings on the alleged toxic waste dumped at Ozoro by Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited. Ozoro is an Isoko town, one of the communities in Delta State where crude oil is prospected.

 

The investigation conducted by the Federal Government, Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited and medical doctors who are indigenes of Ozoro town, dismissed claims by the community that the waste Shell dumped in its environs was toxic adding that “there was no significant impact on the health of the host community.”

 

Mr. Omorighoye reported that the youths stormed the Warri main office of Vanguard and inflicted injuries on his forefinger with knives to deter him from writing any more stories on the Ozoro toxic waste.

 

Lagos Legislators Lambast Journalists

Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday April 17, 2000, lambasted journalists who they accused of being jealous and envious of them. Their major grouse was the cover story of TELL magazine April 24, 2000, edition captioned: Legislators Loot the Treasury.

           

The story tells of how the legislators in the states votes millions for themselves through blackmailing their Chief Executive. One such instance is the report that the 40 legislators allocated N25million to themselves as constituency fund.

           

The legislators accused the media of sensationalism, strongly condemning what they called “calculated attempt to discredit the State House of Assembly and tarnish its integrity.”

           

According to a lawmaker, Hon. Hassan Adefarasin, “…these pressmen are envious of us, otherwise I see no reason why they should be writing about cars, dressing allowance and constituency fund, insinuating that we are busy sharing money here everyday.”

           

The House Chairman on Information, Hon. Tunde Oyewo, on his own urged the house not to hesitate to deal legally with media organisations found blackmailing it.

 

Journalists Harassed At Monarch’s Palace

Overzealous security men in the entourage of President Olusegun Obasanjo on April 19 bundled out over 20 journalists from the palace of the Alake of Egba land, Oba Oyebade Lipede in Abeokuta, Ogun State. President Obasanjo who was in Abeokuta paid a courtesy call on the monarch.

           

The journalists who went to the palace to await the arrival of the President were ordered out of the palace by the security men who told them they had no business being there.                

 

While trying to explain the need to cover the visit, the stern looking, fully armed security men ordered them out threatening to deal with the journalists if they didn’t comply.

           

After the journalists vacated the palace, it was locked against them.  It took the intervention of the Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, before they were allowed back into the palace.

 

Two Men Arrestad For Sedition

Two men identified as Adeoye Jeje and Wale Oyenusi were on April 22 arrested by policemen at the International Trade Fair Complex, along Badagry Road for allegedly being in possession of seditious publications and for unlawful assembly.

           

The men and 149 copies of the said seditious publication entitled: The Guerilla Invasion seized by the police, were taken to Festac Police Division.

           

The Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Mike Okiro who confirmed the arrest said the men would soon be charged to court. As at press  time, the backgrounds of the men were not known.
 

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