By Denisaurus News Service
A spokesperson for the Nigerian Army has clarified the event surrounding the arrest of two journalists from an online website accused of publishing false story.
Officers arrested the publisher of The Premium Times Service Ltd, Dapo Olorunyomi alongside the judiciary correspondent, Evelyn Okakwu over false and unjustifiably accusations the website printed against Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Burutai.
In one of the report, the news site deliberately misled the public by claiming that the CoAS was to be made to appear before the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, “over false asset declaration.”
Lt. Gen Buratai who recently led the Nigerian Army in a victorious battle to recapture Camp Zairo, a last stronghold of the Boko Haram group, was cleared by the CCB on 11 July and 29 September, 2016.
Having failed to retract the false stories, the Premium Times was dragged to court by the Lt.Gen Buratai for defamation.
The Nigerian Army confirmed through its spokesman, brigadier general Sani Usman, that it had taken the decision to brief its lawyers to institute legal action against the Premium Times, after concerted efforts “were made to make Premium Times retract the story and appologise, to no avail.”
“As a law-abiding citizen, Lt. Gen Burutai took appropriate legal steps seeking redress through the courts.
On January, 19, the court ordered for the arrest of Mr Olorunyomi and Ms Okakwu over the false reports.
Both journalists were released on bail at 5:00pm that day, however, they were told to report to the police station, the next day.
Today, the Nigerian Army said its attention “has been drawn to erroneous impressions and insinuations on the “libel case against the Premium Times to whip up sentiments.”
The media house is said to have ‘spinned’ the arrest of the two journalists as an attack against press freedom, which many now see to be a lie.
A social media user said “This is not a war against media. PT are liars.”
Another, @Iamneji wrote saying: ” The attorney to the CoAS wrote a letter to PT, asking for a retraction of what the CoAS considered as libelous. It was clearly written in the letter that there will be a legal consequence should they fail t retract. Deadline expired. No deal.”
The Premium Times has been caught out in the past for publishing false stories. Last year, following the decision of the Senate to reject Ibrahim Mustafa Magu as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the news website did a shoddy fact check which has since been countered by this blog.
Mr Olorunyomi, a former director at the EFCC is gunning for Mr Magu to be made the 4th chair of the commission.
The Premium Times has also made an habit of illegally obtaining information that could put citizens in danger.
Many Nigerians welcomed the news of the arrest, as they believe the online media has been unprofessional in the way it’s handles sensitive materials.