Security operatives, believed to be from the Department of State Services, have shut the Abuja office of Core TV, a cable and satellite broadcaster, online newspaper, Premium Times, reported on Friday, in what could be an expansion of a media clampdown in Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Major General turned democrat.
In recent weeks, the publishers of Sahara Reporters, FreshNews and Premium Times were arrested for various reasons. Their arrests triggered outrage and condemnation within and outside of Nigeria, and raised fears that Nigeria was gradually being turned into a dictatorship with a former military ruler in power.
But the administration defended itself, saying that it was not against journalists but falsehood, and called for journalists to report only the trurh. That tacit fingerprinting was rejected by Premium Times. The medium challenged the army to show just one falsehood it had reported.
On Friday, operatives stormed the office of Core TV at about 4am and carted away broadcasting and other related equipment.
Premium Times quoted Olajide Adediran, the CoreTV managing director, as saying that the operatives shut down the station and barricaded the area during their operation, even though the media house had no history with the secret police.
“They have never formally notified us of any wrongdoing,” Mr. Adediran told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone. “This takes us entirely by surprise.
Mr. Adeniran said he arrived the office, at 34, Sokode Crescent, Zone 5, Wuse, on Friday morning with his staff, but quickly realised that their access into the area had been denied.
“The entire stretch of the street has been barricaded,” Mr. Adediran said.
He said there are signs pasted on the walls of about four buildings in the area that they have been sealed by a court order.
“But even if there’s a court order, why should it be in the middle of the night that they will enforce it and why should they carry our systems and files?” He told Premium Times.
Equipment that the operatives carted away included office computers, digital cameras, documents amongst other properties of the station.
PREMIUM TIMES said it could not independently confirm that SSS was responsible for the assault on CoreTV, and the agency’s refusal to appoint a spokesperson running close to two years did little to help all efforts to get clarification