By Ejike Ejike, Abuja
The management of The Sun Publishing Limited has raised the alarm over the raiding of its headquarters by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC yesterday, describing it as condemnable and reprehensible.
According to a statement by the newspaper management, staff of the media house resumed work yesterday to behold heavily armed EFCC operatives in the company, with the claim to have “orders from above” to seal up the premises of The Sun Publishing Limited.
Part of the statement reads that “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.
”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 further added that “we recall that in 2007, (10 years ago) the EFCC had obtained an interim forfeiture order in respect of some assets of The Sun, attached to a suit against our Publisher, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, for which we have filed an appeal, which is still pending in court.”
Meanwhile, the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren has reacted to the statement, saying that the operatives of the EFCC, visited the head office of the Sun Newspaper in Lagos which lasted for less an hour and it was part of routine efforts to ascertain the state of the assets of the publishing company which is subject of subsisting interim forfeiture order.
He further stated that “prior to the visit, the Commission had written to the management of the company to account for its management of the assets for the period of the subsisting court order.
The Nigerian Guild of Editors has equally condemned the EFCC invasion, describing it as a reminder of the dark years of military dictatorship and deliberate effort to muzzle the press.
Reacting to the ugly incident, the national president, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abdulwaheed Odusile, said that the union was truly worried that at a time when the Nigerian security forces need the support and cooperation of the media in fighting terrorism, corruption and other criminal activities in the country, the media was being attacked by the same security operatives.
The Commission still awaits the response of the Sun and will not be distracted by any attempt to whip up sentiments by alluding to an appeal which has been pending for ten years. The Commission’s action is without prejudice to any appeal and only meant to verify the integrity of the assets.
“Contrary to claims in a statement released to the media by the management of the Sun, no staff 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 claim that ‘EFCC operatives subjected our staff to crude intimidation, psychological and emotional trauma, even as some of the men accused our organization of publishing pro-Biafra, Boko Haram , and Niger Delta Militant stories ,’ is strange and clearly the figment of the imagination of the Sun.
“There was no reason to molest anybody as the commission has always related professionally with the publishing outfit. The attempt also to link the visit to the acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu’s threat to sue the organization over a libelous publication is also diversionary. Magu is pursuing that option in his private capacity and his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, did write the Sun and his letter was widely published in the media on March 31, 2017.”