As Nigerian journalists slam arrests, army says report alerted Boko Haram

A war of words has broken out between the Nigerian army and journalists after a newspaper carried a report divulging ‘classified security information’ on a proposed military operation against Boko Haram terrorists in northern Borno, German agency DW reports.

Journalists condemned the subsequent military raid on the offices of the Daily Trust and arrest of two journalists on Sunday after the newspaper published a front-page story about the planned anti-terrorist operation. They described the army’s action as an attack on Press freedom.

 According to local reports, the military stormed the newspaper offices, harassed journalists and seized several computers. Regional editor of the Daily Trust Uthman Abubakar and reporter Ibrahim Sawab were arrested.

Journalists’ associations have demanded the immediate release of Abubakar and Sawab and lifting of curbs on the newspaper which is based in Maiduguri.

Opposition parties said the raid on the Daily Trust may be an attempt by the government to muzzle the Press and fend off all criticisms ahead of general elections to be held next month.

Nigerian Press was gagged for decades by military governments.
The Daily Trust was targeted in 2014 for publishing articles critical of the military during the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan.

Army defended the arrests of the two journalists by saying the report provided early warning to Boko Haram terrorists and sabotaged the military’s planned operations. It also put the lives of soldiers in danger.

The newspaper reported that the Nigerian military was assembling troops for a major operation in northern Borno to retake Baga and five other towns from the extremists.