The military has denied reports that it seized copies of today’s Leadership newspapers, saying that it only accosted some vehicles conveying newspapers to conduct a search.
The action, it said, followedvintelligence indicating movement of materials with grave security implications.
Director of information for the army, Chris Olukolade, a major general, said the exercise had nothing to do with the content or operation of the media organizations affected.
He stressed that the military will not deliberately and without cause infringe on the freedom of the press, adding that the exercise was a routine security action and should not be misconstrued for any other motive.
Even though Olukolade did not name any particular medium in his statement, media reports said Friday’s edition of the Leadership newspaper was seized at different borders across the country by troops on duty.
The newspapers’ van heading to Kaduna, Kogi, Benin and Abuja were seized without explanation.
Managing director of the Leadership Group, Azubike Ishiekwene, told PremiumTimes that soldiers mounting a roadblock close to the tollgate along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway blocked the newspaper’s van heading to Kaduna and confiscated the entire consignment of the paper.
He said the driver of the vehicle as well as another staff were also detained with their telephones seized and that his company had not been told the reason for the action.
Our Edo State correspondent reports that the office of The Nation newspaper was Friday besieged by plainclothes security operatives and soldiers.
Soldiers and men of the Department of State Security (DSS), also visited Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), complex in GRA, where newspapers are distributed, ostensibly searching for The Nation newspapers.
The paper did not circulate in Benin as all the copies supplied to Edo state from the Port Harcourt printing plant of the paper were allegedly moped by security agents in Warri.
So far, no other medium has reported its papers were seized, raising suspicion that the move may be in reaction to a report published by the Leadership on Tuesday, where it said nearly a dozen army generals and soldiers on lower ranks had been brought to trial for sabotaging the Nigerian government’s onslaught against Boko Haram.
The army spokesman however said that contrary to the speculation, the newspaper was not being witch-hunted over the said report, but that the troops were simply carrying out routine security checks.