The Nigerian media scene experienced rumble and anxiety on Sunday as soldiers stormed Borno, Abuja and Lagos offices of ‘Daily Trust’.
Although the Federal Government later ordered the military to vacate the company’s premises, some members of staff have been arrested.
The soldiers arrested Uthman Abubakar, the newspaper’s regional editor, and Ibrahim Sawab, a reporter.
They also requested to see Hamza Idris, ‘Daily Trust’s political editor who co-authored a Sunday’s front page report about the military’s operation in the north-east, believed to have irked the military.
While the operation began in the Maiduguri, Borno office, the soldiers soon spread it to Abuja and Lagos offices of the paper.
“Security agents have taken over the bureau office of @daily_trust in Lagos in what’s so far been a coordinated siege on the news outlet. It comes hours after armed soldiers invaded @daily_trust bureau in Maiduguri and its head office in Abuja, seizing computers,” the newspaper tweeted barely two hours its Abuja and Maiduguri offices were invaded,” the company’s management said in one of the tweets with which it alerted the public.
On Sunday night, however, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media, Garba Sheu, said the Presidency had ordered the soldiers to vacate the ofices.
He said, “The Federal Government has directed the military to vacate the premises of @daily_trust and the order has been complied with. Issues between the military and the newspaper as they affect the coverage of the war in the Northeast will be resolved through dialogue,” Shehu tweeted on Sunday evening.”
The siege would remind many practitioners and other stakeholders of the adversity the Nigerian media suffered in the hands of soldiers during the military era.
The likes of ‘The Punch’, ‘The Guardian’, Daily Sketch’ and ‘National Concord’ were shut, with several editors and other journalists arrested.
There has been peace since the return of democracy but there have been occasions of repressive tendencies, including the seizure of newspapers during the Goodluck Jonathan era.