The Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) has expressed grave concern over Monday’s invasion of the corporate Head Office of The Sun Publishing Limited in Apapa, Lagos, by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) with a call on the “Federal Government and all people of reason and goodwill to call the anti-graft agency to order.”
In a statement signed by NPAN President and Publisher of This Day, Mr Nduka Obaigbena, the newspaper proprietors condemned the manner the EFCC operatives swooped on The Sun Newspapers’ premises in the early morning of June 12 “while Nigerians were commemorating the historic day of free expression, and ordered security men to take them on a guided tour of the premises of the newspaper.”
“The EFCC operatives, subsequently prevented journalists and staff from performing their constitutional duties, and abridging their rights to Free Speech by preventing those who were in the premises from leaving, and others reporting for duty from entering the premises,” the statement read.
NPAN accused the Acting EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, of embarking on a vengeance mission considering the manner Monday’s raid was carried out, especially following his (Magu) recent threat to sue The Sun for libel over a recent publication.
“Although the EFCC said they were there to enforce a 10-year old Interim Order of Forfeiture on the shareholding of Sun Newspapers, the editors said the EFCC officials were there on a vengeance and intimidation mission to settle scores on several stories published by the newspaper, including the alleged ownership of certain properties by the wife of the EFCC Acting Chairman for which he had threatened libel lawsuits. Instead of lawsuits, the EFCC operatives raided the newspaper offices to revive a 10-year old Interim Order of Forfeiture that is already before an appellate court.
“Given these developments, it is our considered view that the EFCC, being a State institution and a creation of the law, cannot be above the law: and the manner of the invasion tends to suggest that the EFCC was out on a self-help mission, a voyage to intimidate journalists, criminalise journalism and cow free speech.
“We should continue to remind ourselves that this crude tactics of invasion of media houses and harassment of journalists did not work in the past, is not going to work now, and will never work. It is unknown to the Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the statement said.