The premises of The Sun newspaper in Lagos have been raided by armed officials of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC.
While the EFCC maintains that its action was in execution of a pending ten-year court order, the newspaper insists it is personal vendetta by the Chairman of anti-corruption body.
“Law-abiding staff of The Sun Publishing Limited resumed work this morning, June 12, 2017 to behold heavily armed EFCC operatives in our company. They claimed to have “orders from above” to seal up the premises of The Sun Publishing Limited. At gunpoint, they ordered our security personnel to take them round the company premises, after which they proceeded to prevent staff from either entering or leaving the premises, and disrupted our circulation process”, the newspaper said in a statement later that same day.
“For one gruelling hour, EFCC operatives subjected our staff to crude intimidation, psychological and emotional trauma, even as some of the men accused our organisation of publishing pro-Biafra, Boko Haram and Niger Delta militant stories, as they surveyed our premises,” the statement added.
Giving a background to the issue, the statement said The Sun had received and sent a written reply to a letter dated May 23, 2017 and signed by the ECFF Chairman, Ibrahim Mugu. The said letter, according to The Sun, invited Management to report to the Commission on June 5, to give detailed account of their operations in the last 10 years, in line with an interim order of forfeiture.
“The receipt of our correspondence was duly acknowledged. We were therefore shocked that our premises would be invaded by the Commission under whatever guise. This is condemnable and reprehensible,” The Sun statement added.
The newspaper said Magu was settling personal scores with it on account of a recent investigative report it published which allegedly traced an expensive property to his (Mugu’s) wife.
In a counter statement the following day (June 13), the EFCC defended its action “as part of routine efforts” to enforce a subsisting interim forfeiture order it obtained in the course of its prosecution of Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Abia State and owner of The Sun.
“Operatives of the EFCC in the early hours of June 12, 2017, visited the head office of the Sun Newspaper in Lagos. The visit which lasted for less than an hour was part of routine efforts to ascertain the state of the assets of the publishing company which is the subject of subsisting interim forfeiture order,” the statement by EFCC read.
“Contrary to claims in a statement released to the media by the management of The SUN, no employee of the media outfit was molested or intimidated for the few minutes that operatives of the commission spent in the premises of the company,” the statement added.
The MFWA is concerned with the dramatic and forceful manner in which the EFCC carried out its inspection of the facilities of The Sun. The use of armed men for the operation can only amount to intimidation which we condemn in the strongest terms. We call on the authorities in Nigeria to restrain the EFCC from its militant posture.