Attacks On The Media In January 2004
SSS Compel Bureau Chief To Disclose Source
Mr. Tony Eluemunor, the Abuja Bureau Chief of Daily Independent newspaper
was on January 12 interrogated by a team of State Security Service (SSS)
officials in Abuja who tried to force him to disclose the source of the
story published in the January 8 edition of the tabloid. The said story
titled How Ngige’s Arrest Was Hatched, Why It Failed, linked the
Presidency to a plot to unseat the Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige.
Mr. Eluemunor was interrogated for about one and half hours in connection
with the said story. SSS officials had made repeated visits to the Abuja
offices of Daily Independent from January 9 asking for Eluemunor who was
then out of town. On each occasion, they left instructions that he should
report to the director of special duties at SSS headquarters immediately
he returned to Abuja.
When he got the message on his return, Eluemunor went to SSS headquarters
on Aso Drive accompanied by Mr. Gerald Ogekeh, a legal counsel from Gani
At the SSS office, the officials, after the initial formalities, refused
his lawyer entry into the interrogation room insisting that he would be
interrogated alone. He was thereafter questioned by a team headed by the
director of special duties about the source of his story and repeatedly
asked to reveal his source but Eluemunor also consistently refused to
disclose the source insisting that the ethics of his profession forbid him
from revealing his sources.
Eluemunor disclosed that an unidentified officer alleged that the story
had caused some confusion since its publication and wondered why it was
not retracted in a subsequent edition of the newspaper to which Eluemunor
answered that the Presidency’s reaction to the story was published the
following day, in keeping with Daily Independent’s belief in publishing
the other side of the story and in respect of the right to reply.
He was let go at 5.00pm and asked to report back to the SSS headquarters
at 1.00pm on January 13.
Two Journalists Arrested
Two journalists with Mustardseed Communications, Publishers of two evening
tabloids: Midweek Scoop and Weekend News, Timothy Okojie Ave and Emeka
Osuagwu were arrested in the morning of January 14 by men believed to be
from the State Security Service (SSS).
The News Editor of Mustardseed Communications, Mr Victor Iyalla, disclosed
in statement that the two journalists were arrested by four plainclothes
men and a woman who stormed the premises at Akowonjo Road, Egbeda Lagos,
and thoroughly ransacked the place. They claimed they were searching for
Mr. Iyalla revealed that the security men who identified themselves as SSS
officials from Shangisha arrived its office at about 10.30am vandalized
and confiscated several computers and computer accessories and went away
with several copies of various editions of their publications.
Security Men Chase Out and Threaten to Shoot Journalists
Journalists were on January 15 chased out of the Lokoja residence of the
late Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, Raphael Ige when they
went there to seek for more information on his death.
Gun-totting police men stationed at the residence prevented journalists
from entering into the building to obtain information. One of the police
men went as far as threatening to shoot the journalists if they didn’t
leave the premises. He said: “If in the next two seconds you people don’t
disappear, I will just fire and kill you so that you can go and interview
oga in heaven.”
Despite the threat, the journalists were undaunted in their desire to get
further information. The police man accused the journalists of causing so
much problems for the late Ige while he was alive and now they did not
want the man to rest even in death. He further threatened: “You better go
away now before I lose my temper and shoot you.”
The policeman went ahead to cock his gun in preparation to shoot when a
lady identified as the late Ige’s younger sister intervened. The
unidentified lady later persuaded the journalists to leave the premises
for their own safety.
The late Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, Raphael Ige came
into limelight in July 2003 when he led a team of policemen to abduct
Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State on the excuse that Ngige had
resigned. The saga cost Ige his job before he eventually died on January
Theartre Artistes Batter Editor
Mr Lanre Dodo-Balogun, Editor of Iriri-Aye Alaroye, a Yoruba magazine was
attacked on January 25 by some Yoruba artistes over a lead story published
by the magazine. Mr Dodo-Balogun was at the Radio-Vision Complex, housing
LTV8 and Radio Lagos/Eko FM in Agidingbi to promote the current edition of
his magazine when the actors and actresses pounced on him.
The artistes numbering about 30 led by Saheed Balogun and Mr Mustapha
Bakare, a.k.a. Otolo with Babatunde Omidina, Gbenga Adewusi, Ronke Ojo,
Femi Adelakun, Kola Olatunde, and Fathia Balogun among others allegedly
joined hands to beat him. One of the artistes, Gbenga Adewusi allegedly
insisted that the editor be made a scapegoat for other journalists to
learn from. Other artistes also praised them for teaching the editor the
lesson of his life.
Mr. Dodo-Balogun who was badly beaten was taken to the General Hospital,
Ikeja, Lagos State where he received treatment.
OSRC Suspends Nine Journalists Indefinitely
Media independence and editorial plurality suffered a serious setback in
Nigeria in January with the indefinite suspension of nine senior
journalists of the Ondo State Radiovision Corporation (OSRC) Akure.
Those suspended include the director of news, Seinde Omokoba; his deputy,
Sanya Adeleye; Taiwo Fagbuyi, Akinwale Oshodi, Franklin Olaleye and Daisi
Ajayi. Also affected were Remi Olagookun, Daisi Ifaleyimu and Bola
The management, in letters signed by chairman of the board of directors of
the corporation, Mr. Clement Adebambo, accused the journalist of
dereliction of duty.
Investigations however revealed that the workers were suspended for
prominently featuring pro-labour reports during the aborted January 21
strike ordered by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to protest the
imposition of fuel tax on petroleum products prices.
Mr. Akiwnwale Oshodi, one of those affected, in a telephone interview
confirmed that they were suspended for giving prominence to the aborted
strike which the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) planned for January 21.
Mr. Oshodi alleged in the interview that the incident was orchestrated by
the press secretary to the state governor, Mr. Soji Ala, whom he accused
of seeking to influence government to appoint him as the new head of the
corporation when he would have ceased to to be press secretary. He alleged
that Mr. Ala had in November 2003 written to Mr. Adebambo urging him to
dispense with the services of some of them whom he perceives as possible
antagonists if he eventually become the head of the corporation. But Mr.
Adebambo could not carry out Mr. Ala’s bidding in the absence of any
credible reason for such an action.
Governor Olusegun Agagu was said to be furious about the reports on the
aborted strike which made him to summon the Information Commissioner, Mrs.
Tola Aworh, who in turn summoned the chairman of the corporation, Clement
Adebambo to the meeting.
The commissioner thereafter proceeded to the Orita-Obele station of the
corporation, where she ordered that all the editorial staff on duty be
Policemen Beat Up Journalist At Tribunal Premises
Mr. Mustapha Mohammed, ThisDay newspaper Correspondent for Borno State was
in January denied access to the venue of the Election Petition Tribunal
sitting in Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital where he had gone to cover
the day’s proceedings. He was also beaten up by the policemen even while
pleading with them to allow him into the venue. He sustained injuries for
which received medical treatment.
The policemen claimed they were acting on the instructions of the state
police commissioner, Bashir Azeez to deny journalists access to the
Sequel to this treatment, the correspondents’ chapel of the NUJ in Borno
State boycotted the activities of police in the State. The chapel’s
decision was contained in a statement by its secretary, Fidelis Ma-Leva
which condemned the police action, describing it as a negation of the new
spirit of partnership between the police and civil societies being
preached by the inspector general of police.