The Nigerian Army said it raided the offices of Daily Trust Newspapers in Maiduguri and Abuja on Sunday to invite for questioning, the organisation’s journalists responsible for the publication of a classified military operation plan.
The siege was 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.
Army spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman explained today that the disclosure of classified information by the newspaper undermined national security hence its reporters responsible were being invited for questioning.
According to him, 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.
Soldiers along with the police invaded the offices on Sunday over a lead story, detailing a major military plan to flush out elements of Boko Haram from Baga and its environ.
The faction of the terrorists, belonging to the Al-Banarwi which is affiliated to the Islamic State West African Province – ISWAP attacked the border town and surrounding communities shortly after the Christmas.
Baga is in Northern Borno.
Usman said: “The disclosure of classified security information amounts to a breach of national security and runs 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.’’
He further explained that the invitation was done with the best of intention to make the reporters realise the import of such acts to national security.
The army spokesman urged journalists not to worry about the action “but engage in their responsive reportage and be professional as the army has no intention of muzzling the press or jeopardising press freedom.’’
“We, however, wish to enjoin further that they should eschew jeopardising national security in their reportage.
“We would not tolerate a situation where a publication would consistently side with terrorists and undermine our national institutions.’’
Usman appealed to the media to join hands with the military and other security forces to end terrorism and insurgency in the country.