We need your support to produce excellent journalism at all times.
THE State Security Service (SSS) has invited an investigative reporter at the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (The ICIR) by telephone.
On Thursday, one Bayo Paul, who claimed to be an official of the SSS, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command, contacted The ICIR’s Senior Reporter Niyi Oyedeji.
Paul asked the reporter if he was a member of Transparency Integrity Group, to which he declined. Paul tried to coerce the journalist into telling him his name, but the reporter stood his ground, refusing to disclose his name on the phone.
He called back a few minutes later, mentioned the reporter’s name, and asked him to report to the SSS office in Abuja on Friday by 10 am. When asked how he got the reporter’s number, Paul said he got it from the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Editor of The ICIR Ajibola Amzat contacted Paul minutes later to ask why the SSS, as a responsible organisation, would not invite the reporter in writing, but he replied that the organisation would sometimes call to invite persons for interrogation.
“We do call, we do call. The only thing is to verify the source of the call. I am not inviting you to anywhere apart from the office. You can as well trace the number and ask the source or owner of the number if genuinely I am a staff of the State Security Service,” Paul told The ICIR Editor.
Paul said he had the directive of the State Director of Security to invite The ICIR reporter, Oyedeji.
When asked the reason for the invitation, Paul said, “My boss did not tell me. He only gave me his number, his name, and he asked me to invite him to his office.”
The ICIR has contacted the spokesman of the security agency Peter Afunanya, but he replied that he was in a meeting and would get back.
Meanwhile, The ICIR has insisted on an official letter from the SSS to ensure the invitation emanates from the organisation.
There has been a clampdown on journalists by the SSS in recent times. In March 2018, the SSS arrested Daily Independent Abuja Bureau Chief Tony Ezimakor. Later in the year, the secret Police arrested Jones Abiri and detained him for two years for having links with ‘rebels.’ He was re-arrested in March 2019.
In August 2019, former Editor at Daily Trust Ibrahim Dan-Halilu was arrested for a Facebook post expressing support for the ‘RevolutionNow’ campaign.
In December 2019, TVC’s journalist Bukola Samuel-Wemimo was detained by the secret Police at its Magodo office in Lagos.
In 2020, former Premium Times investigative reporter Samuel Ogundipe was hounded by the SSS because he reported on the rift between the National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno and President Muhammadu Buhari’s late Chief of Staff Abba Kyari.