The Federal Capital Territory Command of the Nigeria Police Force has denied raiding the head office of Peoples Gazette newspaper in Abuja.
HausaToday earlier reported that Peoples Gazette in a publication claimed that John Adenekan, an Assistant Managing Editor, was taken away at about 12:35 p.m. by five armed police officers who broke into the paper’s office opposite NNPC Quarters in Utako.
The officers who declined to state the reason for their alleged assault demanded to see Managing Editor Samuel Ogundipe and reporter Adefemola Akintade.
Both journalists were not available during the operation, prompting the officers to arrest Adenekan in their stead, perpetuating an unconstitutional tradition of arresting associates in the event that people of interest are unavailable.
Adenekan said he was being taken to the Utako police division following the raid.
The newspaper later disclosed that the police came back to arrest four more workers, saying that five staff members are now in police custody for undisclosed reasons.
In a chat with The Punch on Friday, the spokesperson of the Command, DSP Josephine Adeh, denied the claim that its operatives raided the newspaper.
Adeh said the police only invited the staff of the newspaper for questioning over a petition written against them accusing the paper of defaming the character of the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai (rtd).
The police spokesperson said the police only invited them for further investigation, and the command also carried the Nigerian Union of Journalists along on this matter.
She said, “Our officers did not raid any media house. We don’t raid media houses because we know better, and media houses are not criminal hideouts.
“Someone had written a petition accusing the newspaper of defamation of character. The newspaper was accused of defaming the character of the former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai. However, we got a warrant from the court to invite them for questioning.
“So, the fact of the matter is that there was a petition against Peoples Gazette, and they are not above the law. So, if someone had written a petition against them, the right thing to do is to invite them, and that was what we did.
“We invited them for further investigation, and we carried the Nigerian Union of Journalists along on this matter. We’re not taking any action behind the NUJ, and there is also a warrant from the court to invite Peoples Gazette for questioning.
“We have no malicious intent for inviting them. Our officers went to Peoples Gazette office this morning to invite them to come to give a statement in response to the petition at the Utako police station. And as I speak to you, the NUJ Secretary is with them at the Utako police station as they’re making their statements.”