Daily Trust reporter released but newspaper demands apology from police
Musa Krishi, Daily Trust newspaper reporter who was arrested by the Nigerian police force on Tuesday, has been discharged.
Krishi was later released shortly after he was picked up at the national assembly by police officers from zone 1 command in Kano.
He was purportedly arrested on the orders of Muhammad Badaru, governor of Jigawa state, over an advertorial issued in the newspaper.
Meanwhile, the newspaper demanded an “unreserved apology” from the police over the incident.
In a statement sent to TheCable, the newspaper’s management described the incident as “not just an act of intimidation on Daily Trust journalists and newspaper, but an unwarranted assault on journalism and the media profession.”
It added that the advertorial in question had no criminal content and was “not in any way libelous against the governor of Jigawa state or any other political personality contained therein.”
The newspaper also called on President Muhammadu Buhari and Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of police, to call the police in Kano to order.
Below is the full statement signed by Mannir Dan-Ali, editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
DAILY TRUST REPORTER ABDUCTED AT NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
At about 11.30am on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, our reporter attached to the House of Representatives in the National Assembly, Musa Abdullahi Krishi, was abducted by policemen who claimed to have come from Zone One Command Police Headquarters in Kano. He was hauled into a Hilux Van with Registration Number ABJ RSH 850 AH from the Divisional Police Office at the National Assembly by a team of six plain cloth policemen who claimed to be taking him to Kano for interrogation.
Though the full ramifications of the investigation they claimed to be carrying out has not been made known to the management of Daily Trust, the abduction of Krishi is the height of intimidation visited upon this company since January 26, 2018 following the publication of a paid advertisement which the governor of Jigawa State had taken exception to.
Below is a sequence of intimidation Daily Trust has been subjected to over the last one and a half months.
On January 26, 2018, Daily Trust published a paid advertisement placed by the Coalition of Governor Muhammad Badaru Abubakar Support Groups. The advertorial consisted of photographs showing Jigawa State Governor Badaru with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
On the same day lawyers of Governor Badaru wrote to disown the contents of the advertorial and sought an immediate retraction. On January 28, 2018, Daily Trust published the Jigawa State Government’s press release disowning the advertorial. On February 5, 2018, Daily Trust published an apology/retraction of the advertisement as demanded by the governor’s lawyers.
In February, Daily Trust received from the Police in Kano a letter claiming that they had commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the publication of the advertorial. Attached to the letter was a summon from a Chief Magistrate Court in Kano, which did not contain the names of parties to the suit, and even a suit number.
We provided all the information requested for by the Police in Kano to enable them conduct their investigations. But not satisfied, the police summoned the management team of Daily Trust to Kano for further investigation.
As this civil case took a frightening twist and turn, Daily Trust wrote an official petition to the Inspector General of Police dated February 15, 2018, seeking his intervention. The IGP subsequently set up a team of investigators in Abuja to work on this case.
It was, therefore, a shock to the management of Daily Trust that the Police in Kano upstaged the IGP’s investigation by coming to Abuja to abduct one of our reporters. We believe the police in Kano can only do this because of undue pressures from Jigawa State Government.
We consider this to be, not just an act of intimidation on Daily Trust journalists and newspaper, but an unwarranted assault on Journalism and the media profession. The advertorial in question had no criminal content; it was not in any way libellous against the governor of Jigawa State or any other political personality contained therein.
If anything, this is a civil-cum-political issue, and, as a newspaper, we have bent over backwards by carrying out the necessary retraction and publishing the disclaimers by the government of Jigawa State. The abduction of our journalist was unwarranted and an abuse on the rights of our reporter. This is clearly another mischievous effort to obstruct Daily Trust from performing of its constitutionally-supported role of making its platform available to all Nigerians who wish to air their views about the country’s democracy.
We, therefore, demand an unreserved apology from the Kano State Command of the Nigeria Police. We appeal to the Inspector-General of Police and President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Police in Kano to order and instruct them to return our reporter to his duty post at the National Assembly.