Nigeria Soldiers And SSS Accused Of Brutalizing Journalists In Edo Nigeria

Physinews Reports: Nigerian Army personnel and operatives of the
State Security Service on Wednesday attacked
a news crew putting up at a hotel in downtown
Benin, the Edo State capital, PREMIUM TIMES
has learnt.


The crew, which comprised reporters, producers
and a driver, arrived in Benin on Tuesday
evening and subsequently checked in at
Douban Hotel along Airport Road, Taiye Garick,
the editor of Watchdog Media, told PREMIUM
TIMES Wednesday.

“At approximately 1:45 a.m. soldiers and SSS
agents stormed the hotel and demanded the
whereabouts of our reporters,” Mr. Garrick said
quoting witnesses. “They went from room to
room dragging them out and brutalising them.”

Mr. Garrick said his staff were then dragged
into a waiting van and taken to the SSS field
office in Benin, where they remained locked as
at 7:00 p.m.Wednesday.

Mr. Garrick said the soldiers were attached to
“Operation Thunderstorm” which is being
coordinated by the Army’s 4th Mechanised
Brigade in Benin.

The affected journalists and their designations
as listed by Mr. Garrick in an email to PREMIUM
TIMES are as follows:
Tony Abulu (Production Manager); Richard
Hasley (Reporter); Opara Uche (Reporter);
Handy Romeo Eze (Reporter); Kelvin Toryila
(Video Editor) and Lanre Ogunleye, an IT
associate.

Others include: Balogun Ehigie (IT ); Kenneth
Danpome (Head IT), Mathew (Logistics
Manager) and Joe Epi (Driver).

“The journalists were taken away, wearing only
boxers after they were brutalised and their
properties including identity cards, laptops and
mobile phones were seized from them,” Mr.
Garrick said.

Mr. Garrick said they were in Benin to carry out
survey of voters and report on early
preparations of INEC and other stakeholders
ahead of the gubernatorial election holding
there on September 28.

Army spokesman, Sani Usman, did not respond
to PREMIUM TIMES’ request for comment.

The management of Douban Hotel declined
comments Wednesday evening.
But Edo State Police Public Relations Officer,
Theodore Okafor, confirmed the development to
PREMIUM TIMES.

“Some agents of the SSS and soldiers from the
4th Mechanised Brigade went to the hotel
around 10 p.m.,” Mr. Okafor, a DSP, said.

“They searched the hotel and some people
were taken away. They’re being interrogated at
the 4th Brigade now.”

Mr. Garrick condemned rising “cases of attacks
against free speech” and demanded an
immediate release of his staff.

“I am deeply saddened to see that the rising
cases of attacks against journalists, bloggers
and other free speech advocates have gotten to
my turn,” Mr. Garrick said. “I never knew it
would get to this extent or to me.”

The onslaught against Watchdog Media crew
comes exactly two weeks after SSS operatives
stormed the residence of Emenike Iroegbu, a
political blogger based in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom
State Nigeria.