Attacks On The Media In August 2001
Security Agents Haunts Champion Reporter
Men of the State security Services (SSS), on Wednesday,
August 8, visited the office of The Champion Newspapers, Abeokuta, in
search of its correspondent in the state, Mr. Kola Adejobi in connection
with an investigative story he wrote. The story was published in the
Sunday edition of the newspaper.
The securitymen, who called at the last floor of the
building which also houses prominent newspapers at 10.30 a.m., demanded
the whereabouts of Adepoju from his circulation officer, Mr. Isiaka Aliu,
who informed them that he had gone on an official assignment.
Editors Raise Alarm Over Continued Threats
Editors of Insider Communications Limited, publishers of
Insider Weekly newsmagazine raised alarm over continued threats to their
lives and business.
In a two-page statement signed by the magazine's Managing
Editor, Obiora Chukwumba, they allege that security agents of the state
were relentlessly on the trail of key directors of Insider Communications
for reportedly stepping on powerful toes with their news stories. It noted
that the security chiefs are accusing them of constituting themselves into
opposition, practicing a reckless brand of journalism, and at a point even
declaring that the magazine's editors constitute a threat to national
security and could be dealt with. The editors see that statement as "akin
to pronouncing a death sentence on an individual."
The statement said further that in addition to threat calls
to its editors in Lagos, its editors in Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano had been
trailed by "persons suspected to be agents of the state security in
It drew attention to a meeting between the security chief
and editors of some major newspapers and magazines which it claimed held
in Abuja and at which the security operatives branded its editors as being
reckless. The statement recalled a similar meeting held shortly before the
pioneering editor-in-chief of Newswatch magazine, Dele Giwa was killed by
a parcel bomb.
It stated, "We are constrained to draw a parallel with this
because our security officials appear endlessly equipped to take lives."
It added that in May, men of the State Security Service (SSS) made
repeated visit to their corporate office in Lagos asking their editors to
report at the Department of State security (DSS) Shangisha on the
outskirts of Lagos for undisclosed reasons.
The magazine viewed the whole episode as an indication of a
nation on a "drift to the dark days of dictatorship" and a calculated
attempt to gag the press. It called on Nigerians to hold government
accountable should anything untoward happens to any of its editors or
Workers Threaten to Shut Down Radio Over Welfare
Workers of the Bayelsa State Radio, Radio Bayelsa have
threatened to embark on a strike action and shut down the radio station
for the alleged maltreatment of its workers.
Chairperson of the Radio, Television and Theatre Workers'
Union (RATAWU) of Bayelsa owned radio station, Glory FM, Miss Helen Aggrey
alerted the Culture and Information Commissioner of the proposed strike
Reports indicated that workers of the media house have on
several occasions expressed their dissatisfaction with the way and manner
in which the Director General of the corporation, Mr. Comish Ekiye was
handling staff welfare.
Some of the workers demanded the sack of the DG
APCON Bans Tobacco Adverts
In a subtle attempt to censure the media, the Advertising
Practioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) the advertisers regulatory body in
Nigeria banned the advertisement and promotion of tobacco products on
television, home video and billboards with effect from January 1, 2002.
APCON Chairman, Chief Olu Falomo who announced this
decision in Abuja the Federal capital Territory early August (11 or 12) at
a news conference added that no pitch panel display of tobacco products
(brand or pack) would be allowed in sporting arenas or stadia.
Advertisement of tobacco in newspapers and magazines would
be restricted to inside covers and run-off pages and would no longer be
allowed to go on their outside covers and would no longer be in colour
while no tobacco advertisement would be carried in publications targeted
at sporting events according to Chief Falomo.
Chief Falomo said APCON would continue to liaise with
government agencies and ministries to secure their cooperation in
enforcing the council's Act.
Religious Sect Threatens The Press
The Brotherhood of the Cross and Star (BCS) led by Olumba
Olumba Obu (OOO) which had been enmeshed in crises since January 2001 has
issued a caveat stating that any press statement, press release,
announcement and publication purporting to originate from the headquarters
of the group must be with clearance from Obu or his son, Roland, whom he
has crowned his successor, a move that has resulted in discord in the
The 'decree' states that, "Any statements that
purport to originate from the BCS world headquarters, the father's vestry
or the leader's office must henceforth be accompanied with a written
clearance properly designated and signified by the father's thumbprint
with the proper jurat witnessed by the father's attorney or in the case of
clearance from the chairman of the BCS Executive Council, by his usual and
known signature, now hereunder affixed beside the father's thumbprint."
The statement warned that any mass media that fail,
refuse and/or neglect to get the said clearance and goes ahead to
broadcast or print any statement, release or purporting to originate from
the BCS world headquarters was courting a law suit. Such, the statement
demands, should first be cross checked and clearance received in writing
and under the hand and signature of OOO before publication.
Governor Accuses Journalist of Bias
Governor Boni Haruna of Adamawa State on August 17 accused
journalists on national media tour of being rented to discredit his
government. He told the journalists and the Minister of Information and
National Orientation, Prof. Jerry Gana, when they visited his office at
the government house in Yola, that he was aware that some of the newsmen
were in the state to concoct damaging stories about his government.
According to him, "We are not unaware that some of you may
have been rented to come and write adverse reports that don't reflect the
substance or the issues on the ground. To this kind of people, I want to
suggest that you search your conscience because for the past two weeks,
there have been unwarranted attacks on this government."
But at the forum to mark the end of the tour later the same
day also in government house, Governor Haruna in apparent retraction of
his accusation said his indictment was targeted at journalists who had
earlier been hired to distort the situation in the State who came to the
state earlier than the team with the Minister of Information.
Governor Accuses Section of The Media of Bias
Governor Ahmed Makarfi of Kaduna State on August 17 or 18
accused media operating from the southern States of Nigeria of unfair
treatment of the North. Speaking at the first annual lecture of the
Nigeria Union of Journalists Kaduna Council added that the southern press
had in recent times tended to misinterpret the North in all its reportage.
He also accused the same section of the press of
orchestrated media campaign against the North both after the annulment of
the June 12 elections and during this present administration. He said the
Southern press blamed the annulment of June 12 election entirely on the
North which voted massively for both the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola and
President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Court Bars Journalists From Proceedings
Justice Abdulahi Oyekan of a Lagos High Court on August 23
ordered newsmen out of her court saying she did not want 'a sensation' out
of a case of alleged abduction. It was at the hearing of a case involving
the leader of a religious sect, Mrs. Lufunlayo Famowopo, alias Queen of
Glory, founder of Glory Ministries along with three others on charges of
abduction of three minors.
Justice Oyekan said, "I did not invite the press, gentlemen
respect yourselves. We have to consider the future of the children
involved in the case."
She insisted that only the parties involved should be
allowed into the courtroom.