Barely a week after the State Security Service released a Nigerian journalist it detained without explanation, the police have arrested another media professional with Daily Trust, the publication said on Tuesday.
Musa Abdullahi Krishi, a legislative affairs reporter with the Abuja-based newspaper, was arrested at the National Assembly shortly before noon, Daily Trust said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday afternoon.
Mannir Dan-Ali, editor-in-chief of Daily Trust, said in the statement that the paper had received complaints from Jigawa State Governor, Muhammad Badaru, over an advertorial, but had since published a retraction as demanded by the governor, amongst other entreaties.
Mr. Dan-Ali said the case was being treated as an abduction.
Some of the reporters present during Mr. Krishi’s arrest told PREMIUM TIMES the officers who came to pick him reportedly muttered to him that he was being sought over a story he wrote which Mr. Badaru found offensive
Mr. Dan-Ali said the officers who arrested Mr. Krishi came from Kano but Daily Trust published an update that he might have been taken to Jigawa for interrogation, demanding his immediate release amidst fears for his safety.
But the police commissioners in the two states denied involvement or knowledge, with both telling PREMIUM TIMES that none of them could order police to make arrests in Abuja.
“I did not order the arrest and I am not even aware of it,” said Bala Senchi, Jigawa police commissioner. “I cannot send my officers to go and make arrest in Abuja.”
The commissioner in Kano, Rabi’u Yusuf, also made a similar statement to PREMIUM TIMES.
“I am not aware of any arrest of a journalist,” he said, suggesting that enquiries should be directed at Jimoh Moshood, the force spokesperson in Abuja.
Mr. Moshood did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ request for comments.
Also, Kayode Aderanti, the assistant inspector-general in charge of Zone 1 in Kano, did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments.
Bello Zaki, a spokesperson for Mr. Baradu, could not be reached for comments Tuesday afternoon. His phone line was switched off when tried repeatedly between 5:20 and 5:39 p.m. Tuesday.
Daily Trust warned federal authorities to desist from stifling freedom of the press by allowing journalists to practice their craft as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
Tony Ezimakor, a journalist with Daily Independent, was arrested by the SSS on February 28 and released on March 6 without explanation.
The paper said the SSS released its reporter unconditionally after trying unsuccessfully to compel him to reveal the source of a story he wrote about how security agents were cashing in on ransom payments the Buhari administration allegedly advanced to Boko Haram for the release of some Chibok girls last year.
Read the full statement from Daily Trust announcing the arrest of its reporter below:
DAILY TRUST REPORTER ABDUCTED AT NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
At about 11.30am on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, our reporter attached to the House of Representatives in the National Assembly, Musa Abdullahi Krishi, was abducted by policemen who claimed to have come from Zone One Command Police Headquarters in Kano.
He was hauled into a Hilux Van with Registration Number ABJ RSH 850 AH from the Divisional Police Office at the National Assembly by a team of six plain cloth policemen who claimed to be taking him to Kano for interrogation.
Though the full ramifications of the investigation they claimed to be carrying out have not been made known to the management of Daily Trust, the abduction of Krishi is the height of intimidation visited upon this company since January 26, 2018 following the publication of a paid advertisement which the governor of Jigawa State had taken exception to. Below is a sequence of intimidation Daily Trust has been subjected to over the last one and a half months.
1. On January 26, 2018 Daily Trust published a paid advertisement placed by the Coalition of Governor Muhammad Badaru Abubakar Support Groups.
The advertorial consisted of photographs showing Jigawa State Governor Badaru with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
2. On the same day lawyers of Governor Badaru wrote to disown the contents of the advertorial and sought an immediate retraction.
3. On January 28, 2018, Daily Trust published the Jigawa State Government’s press release disowning the advertorial.
4. On February 5, 2018, Daily Trust published an apology/retraction of the advertisement as demanded by the governor’s lawyers.
5. In February Daily Trust received from the Police in Kano a letter claiming that they had commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the publication of the advertorial. Attached to the letter was a summon from a Chief Magistrate Court in Kano, which did not contain the names of parties to the suit, and even a suit number.
6. We provided all the information requested for by the Police in Kano to enable them conduct their investigations. But not satisfied, the police summoned the management team of Daily Trust to Kano for further investigation.
7. As this civil case took a frightening twist and turn, Daily Trust wrote an official petition to the Inspector General of Police dated February 15, 2018, seeking his intervention.
The IGP subsequently set up a team of investigators in Abuja to work on this case.
It was, therefore, a shock to the management of Daily Trust that the Police in Kano upstaged the IGP’s investigation by coming to Abuja to abduct one of our reporters. We believe the police in Kano can only do this because of undue pressures from Jigawa State Government.
We consider this to be, not just an act of intimidation on Daily Trust journalists and newspaper, but an unwarranted assault on Journalism and the media profession. The advertorial in question had no criminal content; it was not in any way libellous against the governor of Jigawa State or any other political personality contained therein.
If anything, this is a civil-cum- political issue, and, as a newspaper, we have bent over backward by carrying out the necessary retraction and publishing the disclaimers by the government of Jigawa State.
The abduction of our journalist was unwarranted and an abuse on the rights of our reporter. This is clearly another mischievous effort to obstruct Daily Trust from performing of its constitutionally-supported role of making its platform available to all Nigerians who wish to air their views about the country’s democracy.
We, therefore, call for the immediate release of our reporter, Musa Abdullahi Kirshi, and demand an unreserved apology from the Kano State Command of the Nigeria Police. We appeal to the Inspector-General of Police and President
Muhammadu Buhari to call the Police in Kano to order and instruct them to return our reporter to his duty post at the National Assembly.