Nigeria Army has clarified reasons behind its invasion of a Nigerian newspaper, Daily Trust offices and arrest of some members of staff.
Personnel of the army had on Saturday invaded Daily Trust offices in Maiduguri, Abuja and Lagos.
The troops arrested the regional editor, Uthman Abubakar and a reporter, Ibrahim Sawab and shut the gate of the office.
A source at the Daily Trust said the arrest of the journalist may be connected to the newspaper lead story on Sunday.
The report was written by Hamza Idris and Uthman Abubakar.
Daily Trust earlier reported that the Nigerian military has assembled thousands of troops and equipment in preparation for a massive operation to retake Baga and five other towns in the northern part of Borno State from Boko Haram.
The media outfit said it learnt that all the three arms of the nation’s armed forces, the army, navy and the air force, would be involved in the major offensive to flush out the insurgents from the areas they have captured.
“More troops including ground troops, airmen and naval personnel are being deployed from different formations. They would join those on ground in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states for the operations,” the newspaper said citing a military source.
A similar report was published by AFP on December 31.
However, the army said Daily Trust was culpable of strengthening the Boko Haram insurgency group with its Sunday Trust lead story, where it disclosed information of the military as regards fight against the terrorists.
“We would like to state that soldiers of the Nigerian Army along with elements of Nigeria Police Force and other Security Agencies were indeed at Abuja and Maiduguri offices of the publishing company to invite the staff of the company over its lead story on Sunday Trust publication, which divulged classified military information, thus undermining national security,” spokesman of Nigeria Army Sani Usman said in a statement.
The army said, “The disclosure of classified security information amounts to a breach of national security and run contrary to Sections 1 and 2 of the Official Secrets Act.”
He explained that the information published by Daily Trust “afforded the Boko Haram terrorists prior notice of our plans and giving them an early warning to prepare against the Nigerian military, thus sabotaging the planned operations and putting the lives of troops in imminent and clear danger.”
Usman noted that the army “would not tolerate a situation where a publication would consistently side with terrorists and undermine our National institutions.”
While urging other journalists and media houses to discharge their duties without fear, Usman said the treatment meted out to Daily Trust was in no way to deprive the country of press freedom.
He, however, appealed to the media society to support the military in its fight against terrorism and avoid reportage capable of jeopardizing national security.