The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) condemns the arrest and interrogation of Daily Trust reporter Tunji Omirin by the military over a story on the Boko Haram insurgency.
A group of soldiers stormed the Borno State Secretariat of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Maiduguri on January 30, 2020 and arrested the journalist. The military officers had twice gone to the regional office of Daily Trust in Maiduguri earlier that day in search of the journalist before tracing him to the NUJ secretariat. The soldiers handcuffed Omirin and took him away around 4:30 pm.
The journalist was detained and interrogated for about three hours before being released with caution.
“Yes, Omirin is back at home with his family and he is hale and hearty,” Malam Naziru Mikailu, Editor-in-Chief of Daily Trust confirmed in a story published by the online version of the paper. “He was questioned by the military over a story he authored concerning activities of the Boko Haram insurgents.”
This is the second time in a year that journalists of Daily Trust have been harassed by the army for reporting on their anti-terror operations.
The Daily Trust’s regional editor, Uthman Abubakar and a reporter, Ibrahim Sawab, were whisked away after a combined team of soldiers and Department of State Services (DSS) operatives stormed the newspaper’s office in Maiduguri on January 6, 2019. Soldiers also raided the news organisation’s headquarters in Abuja and its office in Lagos on that day.
While the MFWA welcomes the release of Omirin, we strongly condemn his arrest in the first place as it was a gross violation of his human rights and his right as a journalist. To invade the premises of the journalists’ union and arrest a journalist as if he was a criminal is unacceptable and the military leadership must call the officers involved to order.