Police Summon Premium Times Journalist over Unpublished Story

Mr. Emmanuel Agbo, Premium Times Reporter

Mr. Emmanuel Agbo, a reporter for Premium Times, has been summoned by the Police regarding a report he is working on that is yet to be published. Mr. Agbo received an official invitation letter dated May 31, 2024, from the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Intelligence Response Team (NPF-IRT) in Abuja, which was sent to him on the messaging app, WhatsApp, on June 3, 2024.

The police invitation is said to be related to a dispute involving Homadils Realty Limited and a family over land in Guzape, Abuja which has led to allegations of document falsification, currently under investigation by the Federal Capital Development Authority.

Reportedly, the invitation followed Mr. Agbo’s request for a formal summon after an initial invitation was made via phone call. On May 30, 2024, he was contacted by a man who identified himself as Ezemba Ezekiel, a police officer, who asked the journalist to visit the NPF-IRT office in Guzape, Abuja.

“I am Ezemba Ezekiel from the Intelligence Response Team. I am calling you on behalf of Homadils. You are expected to come over to our office at Abattoir in Guzape to clarify a petition,” Ezekiel said during the call.

According to news reports, the company mentioned, Homadils Realty Limited, is a land developer involved in a land dispute which Mr. Agbo’s upcoming story addresses. Before the police invitation, he had contacted Ms Bilkisu Aliu, the CEO of Homadils, who shared her responses to allegations from a family claiming the disputed land. They communicated further via WhatsApp.

Following his phone conversation with the police, Mr. Agbo requested a formal invitation, which was subsequently sent by Ezekiel via WhatsApp, dated May 31, 2024. The summon did not detail the petition but requested his presence at the IRT Complex, Old Abattoir by Guzape Junction, Abuja, on June 5, 2024, at 2 p.m.

In response, his organization, Premium Times assured the police of their cooperation and requested details of the petition. Mr. Idris Akinbajo, Managing Editor of Premium Times, responded with a letter delivered to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, IRT, on June 3, 2024.

“We have received a letter from you to our reporter, Mr. Emmanuel Agbo, inviting him to appear before you on 05/06/2024 at your office at IRT Complex, Old Abbatoir by Guzape Junction, Abuja. We received the letter today, 03/06/2024, although it is dated 31/05/2024,” Mr. Akinbajo wrote.

He added that: “Premium Times is dedicated to using investigative journalism to hold power accountable and deepen democracy as per Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution. We are always ready to assist law enforcement agencies professionally. However, your letter to Mr. Agbo only mentioned a petition without providing details. We request more information to enable him to prepare adequately and bring relevant materials to your office. We trust you will treat this request promptly.”