EFCC Debunks Premium Times Report, Says Magu Didn’t Attend Buhari Re-Election Gathering

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has said that its attention has been drawn an online publication, Premium Times, of 5thDecember, 2018, with a bold headline: “EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, attends Buhari re-election gathering”, saying the story is not only misleading but very mischievous.

According to the story authored by Samuel Ogundipe, he said  that Magu was at the gathering to strategise on the re-election campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari. “The event, which held on Tuesday at Nicon Luxury Hotel in Abuja, was exclusively billed as a consultative forum for politicians of the ruling All Progress Congress. It was put together by the National Committee of Buhari Support Groups, a political action committee loyal to President Buhari”, the report further said.

A statement signed by the head of the media and publicity unit of the commission, Tony Orilade, said: “The fact is that Mr. Ibrahim Magu never attended any Buhari re-election gathering at Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja.

“At exactly 8:59am on Tuesday, December 4th, 2018, the EFCC boss was already at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja en route Lagos where he had engagement with Media Executives.

“Before the trip to Lagos, Magu visited a family relative who lodged at the hotel, Nicon Luxury. He went straight to the room where his relative was lodged and met with him very briefly before departing for Lagos where he met with newspaper editors. These facts were laid bare when Ogundipe called to confirm his story.

“Magu is not omnipresent to have been in Lagos and also in Abuja at the same time. For Ogundipe to still come up with such a screaming headline after confirming from the Commission only shows that his mind was made up to do the hatchet job which he has exhibited by his write up.

“We want to make categorically clear that EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Mustafa Magu is neither a card carrying member of any political party nor is he a sympathiser of the ruling APC. He is only carrying on his job professionally and remains a public officer who is apolitical and determined to see a new Nigeria where corruption would be brought to its knees.

“In the meantime, we have contacted our lawyers and they are taking a cursory look at the controversial publication.”

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Police Deny Compelling Ogundipe To Implicate Saraki

The Nigeria Police Force has denied compelling Samuel Ogundipe of Premium Times online publication to implicate the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, before he could be released from custody.

Ogundipe was arrested on Aug.14 by the police for the alleged publication of the Inspector-General of police report on the siege of  the National Assembly by the Department of State Service.

The Police had said that Ogundipe was also being investigated and prosecuted under other offences which violated Official Secret Act, Cyber Crime Act, and the Penal Code Law for which he had volunteered statements.

In a statement, the Spokesman for the Police, acting DCP Jimoh Moshood, on Friday in Abuja said that no investigator asked Ogundipe to implicate Saraki before he could be released.

“There are video and audio records of the whole interrogation, which include the confessions of Ogundipe and his criminal roles in the commission of the crime for which he is being prosecuted,” he said.

The spokesman said that the video and audio concerning his interrogation would be tendered in evidence in court at the appropriate time.

He implored members of the public to disregard and discountenance the claim that the police asked Ogundipe to implicate Saraki before he could be released.

“It is also untrue, and a blatant misrepresentation of facts that Ogundipe was subjected to any form of brutality, psychological or real torture, while he was in the custody of the police.

“The force will not be deterred from carrying out its statutory duties in ensuring that the rule of law and its supremacy prevails in all matters,” Moshood said.(NAN)

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Premium Times Asks Osinbajo To Intervene In Its Reporter’s Arrest #FreeSamuelOgundipe

Online newspaper Premium Times has called on Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to intervene in the arrest of its reporter, Mr Samuel Ogundipe, by the police.

The media outfit made the call on Tuesday in a statement by its Publisher, Mr Dapo Olorunyomi.

“We call on Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to direct the police to release Mr Ogundipe immediately and unconditionally,” it said hours after the reporter was arrested in Abuja.

According to Premium Times, Ogundipe was arrested and detained by the police, through the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

“On the day the Nigerian presidency was complaining about the excesses of a unit in the police, the same unit was forcing a Premium Times journalist to disclose his source,” it said. “Apart from Mr Ogundipe, this newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed, and its education correspondent, Azeezat Adedigba, were also briefly detained by the police at the SARS headquarters in Abuja.”

“Ms Adedigba was later released after about three hours of detention. Mr Mojeed and Mr Ogundipe were driven from the SARS headquarters in Abuja to the IGP Monitoring Unit at Force Headquarters, where Mr Ogundipe was made to write a statement,” the newspaper added.

At the Force headquarters, it said the journalist was repeatedly asked to disclose his source for a story published by the media outfit.

The newspaper noted that the said story, which was also published in some other media, revealed a letter purportedly written by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, to Professor Osinbajo on the blockade of the National Assembly by security officials.

It said the police had yet to offer a coherent reason for their denial of the reporter his freedom and demanded his immediate and unconditional release.

Premium Times condemned the arrest, stressing that Ogundipe’s detention was in gross violation of his rights, the Nigerian laws and all democratic tenets.

“This heavy-handed treatment of a journalist against whom no case of violation of the law has been made is an embarrassment to Nigeria and advertises the country as disdainful of its own laws and democratic practice,” it said.

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Group Calls For Immediate Release of Detained Premium Times Reporter

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today called for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Samuel Ogundipe, a Premium Times newspaper reporter who was arrested yesterday and is being detained by the Nigerian Police at the Force headquarters in Abuja for refusing to disclose the source of his information for a news report.

In a statement issued today by its Programme Director, Mr. Ayode Longe, MRA said:  “We are dismayed by this increasing resort by the Buhari Administration to tactics of intimidation and harassment of media practitioners in breach of the provisions of the Constitution and other laws.  We are seriously concerned that such acts appear to be on the upswing as the 2019 elections draw nearer and urge the Government to retrace its steps in order not to permanently damage public confidence in democratic governance.”

Mr. Ogundipe was reportedly invited by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police to its headquarters in Abuja on August 14, 2018 and arrested when he honoured the invitation.  He was then transferred to the IGP Monitoring Unit at Force Headquarters, where he is currently being detained.

The Police are reported to have frozen the reporter’s personal bank account without any warrant from any court, just like his arrest and detention.

The Editor-in-Chief of the online newspaper, Mr. Musikilu Mojeed, and its education correspondent, Ms Azeezat Adedigba, were reported to have been initially arrested, manhandled and briefly detained by the police before being released.

While Ms Adedigba was released after about three hours of detention, Mr. Mojeed and Mr. Ogundipe were driven from the SARS headquarters to the IGP Monitoring Unit at Force Headquarters where the police forced Mr. Ogundipe to write a statement.

Mr. Longe advised the Police: “If you have any actionable case against Mr. Ogundipe or any other journalist, you should follow the due process of the Law; you should go to court and obtain a warrant if you have any evidence of criminal conduct by the journalist that necessitates his arrest and detention and the freezing of his bank account, rather than arresting and clamping him into detention in a manner reminiscent of the dictatorial practices that characterized the first coming of President Muhammadu Buhari as a military Head of State.”

According to him, if Nigeria wants to be taken seriously by the international community, then it must abide by the established norms and standards under international law, which abhors the criminalization of journalistic activities or the right of citizens to freely express themselves.

Saying that “democratic governance presupposes respect for the rule of law”, Mr. Longe stressed: “it is disheartening that the Police went outside their mandate to freeze Mr. Ogundipe’s bank account in order to financially suffocate him and force information from him, contrary to the laws of the land. We find this action to be unjustifiable and unbecoming of any democratic institution.”

Mr. Longe called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to preoccupy himself with the task of reforming the Force and, in particular, overhauling SARS which has become the symbol of government brutality against its own people in Nigeria.

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