The Nigerian Army has explained why its men invaded Daily Trust headquarters in Abuja and regional office in Maiduguri on Sunday.
Condemnation greeted the action of soldiers who invaded the offices of the newspaper simultaneously in the two cities, carting away computers and arresting two journalists.
In a statement issued on Monday by its spokesman, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, the army said it stormed the media houses alongside policemen and operarives of other security agencies to invite the staff of the newspaper over “its lead story on Sunday Trust publication, which divulged classified military information, thus undermining national security.”
According to the army, “the newspaper disclosed details of planned military operations against the Boko Haram terrorists. The disclosure of classified security information amounts to a breach of national security and run contrary to Sections 1 and 2 of the Official Secrets Act. It afforded the Boko Haram terrorists prior notice of our plans and giving them early warning to prepare against the Nigerian military, thus sabotaging the planned operations and putting the lives of troops in imminent and clear danger.”
The army stated that “the invitation of those responsible for divulging military plans was done with the best of intention in order to make them realise the import of such acts to our national security.”
Assuring journalists that theere is no intention to muzzle the press or jeopardise press freedom, the army warned that it “would not tolerate situation where a publication would consistently side with terrorists and undermine our National institutions.”
“We would like to further assure that the invitation is for further investigation and if need be, all those culpable of jeopardising operations security will be prosecuted by the relevant law enforcement agency,” it concluded.