•Media house not under siege—DSS
Online News platform, Premium Times, has alerted the public that suspected officials of the State Security Services (SSS) are trailing its reporters. Premium Times in a statement on Sunday indicated that in the past week the military and security agencies may be on the trail of its reporter over reports on the rift between the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), and Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari.
But the Department of State Services (DSS) has debunked the claims, insisting that Premium Times was not in any way under siege by the operatives of the secret police, describing as “fake news”. The newspaper noted that its follow-up story which, revealed the ‘unusual and unprecedented’ recall of all the senior army officers deployed to the NSA’s Office, without their replacement, leaving a resource void in the NSA’s Office which was being “countermanded” by the NSA rattled some of the parties involved.
In the aftermath of the story,
Premium Times said the internet identity and domain of one of its Reporter that
authored the story, have been subjected to a relentless hacking attacks while
he has been receiving calls from strange numbers to confirm his identity. It
also disclosed that two men suspected to be officials of the State Security
Service, Sunday, attempted to breach the home of it’s Editor-in-Chief, Mr.
Musikilu Mojeed, claiming they had a message to drop for him. “The two men,
both dark in complexion, one tall and clad in a dark suit, the other of average
height wore a t-shirt, rode in a 2008 Toyota Camry car”, Mrs. Haulat Mojeed,
wife of the editor said.
“The plain-clothed men, Mrs Mojeed recalled, asked that she open her gate as they have a parcel for her husband whom, they told her, they ‘were aware was not around’. “I cannot remember my husband saying anyone will bring a parcel,” she told the men, asking them to pass it through an opening on the gate but they declined. Recalling her encounter later, Mrs Mojeed said she told them she wanted to fetch her phone, call her husband, and ask if he was expecting any parcel, but the shorter of the men who was waiting in the car said “This woman is wasting our time. Let’s go,” before they both sped off in the tinted car.
“A little while later, another set of paired security operatives arrived at Premium Times reporter Samuel Ogundipe’s house. They parked at the roadside, looking directly into his apartment through the fence. After apparently noticing no activity, they drove off.” Against this backdrop, Premium Times management stressed if the security agents had wanted any of their staff, they would be happy to present them in a way that will ensure clear accountability.
“In an age of widespread kidnapping,
it adds no value to the image of security officials to play by the protocols of
nefarious actors in the community, visiting the homes of citizens and making up
stories about dropping messages for them or threatening them through anonymous
calls. “We have asked our lawyers to take up the matter from here,” the
statement stated and asked its staff to be more watchful of unusual movements
around them and promptly report to authorities.
“Efforts to seek clarity from SSS spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, were unsuccessful as calls placed to him Sunday afternoon were not answered”, the management said. But Afunanya in a statement afterwards, said that the report that the DSS is laying siege on Premium Times and has hacked the phones of one of its staff is false in its entirety. According to him, the claim “is unfounded and just a needless sensationalism”.
He stated: “There is no such operation at the moment by the Service targeted at the Premium Times, its Editor or staff. If there is any need for the DSS to discharge its duty, it sure has to do that with every sense of decency and in accordance with laid down procedures. “Now, the Service is not anywhere near the news agency. Therefore, the report should be disregarded. It is fake news.”