A journalist reporting for Daily Trust Newspaper, Omirin Olatunji, has regained his freedom hours after he was whisked away by personnel of the Nigerian Army in Borno State.
Olatunji was picked up at about 4:40pm on Thursday while hanging out with colleagues at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) along Lagos Street in Maiduguri, the state capital.
Channels Television gathered that the arrest was carried out by two plain cloth army personnel and a soldier in camouflage carrying an assault rifle – AK 47.
The reporter was handcuffed in the presence of other journalists and dragged into a waiting car without offering explanations after which the vehicle zoomed off.
Confirming the arrest, Borno NUJ said the military authorities in the state contacted them that Olatunji had been arrested and was on his way to the barracks.
The spokesperson for the 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Colonel Ado Isa, also told Channels Television that the Theatre Commander was having talks with the leadership of the NUJ with a view to resolving the impasse.
A Trample On Dignity
Following the reporter’s release, the NUJ condemned Olatunji’s arrest in a statement, saying the military’s action was detrimental to the operation of free democracy.
It also described it as a trample on the dignity of professional journalists, saying the arrest was a repeat of a similar incident about the same time in 2019.
The statement was jointly signed by the NUJ chairman and secretary in the state, Bulama Talba and Mohammed Ibrahim, respectively.
It read, “We the members of the Pen profession in Borno State have been and will continue to live up to our responsibilities of informing the government and citizens on happenings as a way of promoting the safety of all and improve living conditions at all times.
“The union members from various media have been, with all sense of responsibility, carrying out duties to put issues in the right perspectives for proper agenda-setting by government and the military and mobilising the citizenry to support programmes and operations that follow, which Olatunji Omirin has been doing remarkably well.
“NUJ feels it is quite unfortunate that this is happening now when we all need to be on the same page to move our country from armed conflict to peaceful resolutions of disputes for development to thrive instead of playing into the wishes of elements that promote discord in the nation.
“We can do better by calling concerned media organisations, NUJ, as well as other stakeholders for regular interactions on finding common ground on the way forward beyond this modus operandi.”