Journalist Arrested by Soldiers over Boko Haram Report

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18154914-324x235A Daily Trust newspaper reporter, Mr. Olatunji Omirin, was on January 30, 2020arrested by soldiers over a report he wrote on the increasing attacks along the Kano-Maiduguri highway by members of the Islamist insurgent group, Boko Haram.

Reports said the soldiers who stormed the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) at New GRA, Maiduguri, handcuffed the reporter and drove him in a Hilux van to Maimalari Barracks of the 7 Division Nigeria Army where an officer, a Deputy Director of  Military Intelligence interrogated him.

Narrating his ordeal, Olatunji said the officer who ordered his arrest told him the military was not happy with some of his reports, and that the officer demanded to know his sources.

According to him, “the officer was furious with his boys for bringing me without my phone. When they took me by force at (the) NUJ secretariat, my phone was not with me. That actually infuriated the man.”

The journalist said the deputy director, whose name he could not immediately determine, did not bother about his cuffed hands, until he protested.

The reporter said the Army Director disclosed that the military was not happy with some of his reports particularly that of January 20, and that he asked:“is that why you have to handcuff me? It was then he, said the Directorapologised and said that it was his boys that acted in an overzealous (manner).

The reporter was detained for several hours before he was eventually released following unrelenting pressure from his colleagues who boycotted a major military function scheduled for that day.

The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. General OlusegunAdeniyi said he was not aware of the journalist’s arrest.

Omirin’s arrest is the latest of such attacks on journalists. The military has repeatedly harassed journalists over reports it considers critical.

In January 2019, armed soldiers invaded the Daily Trust regional office in Maiduguri, and arrested the paper’s regional editor, Uthman Abubakar, and a reporter, Ibrahim Sawab.
Their arrests were followed up with raids on Daily Trust offices by soldiers.

Journalists in Borno State, the centre of the Boko Haram crisis, say the intermittent arrests make them carry out their duties of reporting the insurgency and its attendant challenges with fear.