Soldiers, DSS arrest persons with INEC sensitive materials in Benin, deny arrest of journalists
The Nigerian Army has denied ever arresting journalists in Benin City, Edo State, stating that the 10 persons arrested were suspected hoodlums who had in their possession sensitive INEC materials ahead of the governorship election in the state.
The Army said among those arrested, none admitted to be a journalist, stressing that one of the suspects was a deserter from the military. It explained this in a statement thus:
“The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to an online publications alleging that Soldiers of 4 Brigade Nigerian Army and personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS) Edo State command of arresting and molesting 10 journalists in Benin, Edo State earlier today. This is not correct as the online media did not get their facts right.
“It is important to state that sequel to the prevailing security situation in the state which led to the postponement of the earlier scheduled Gubernatorial Election in Edo State, there were credible security reports that some unpatriotic persons have hired hoodlums with the intention of causing mayhem during the forthcoming election in the State. The reports further showed that the suspected hoodlums have been lodged in some hotels within Benin City and its environs.
“Acting on this, the DSS in conjunction with troops of 4 Brigade Nigerian Army carried out cordon and search operations in the suspected areas. This led to the arrest of 10 suspected persons in one of the hotel. Among the suspects arrested was a deserted soldier.
“It is pertinent to state that none of the arrested suspects identified himself as a journalist or mention the media he reports for, contrary to the allegations of the online media.
“In addition, quite a number of incriminating items including INEC sensitive materials were recovered from them.
“That notwithstanding, all the suspects were treated humanely and in the most dignified manner which has always been in accordance with our Code and tradition. Therefore none of them was molested at all during the operation and subsequent handing over to the relevant security agency.
“We wish to reiterate the position of the present leadership of the Nigerian Army under the command of Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai which has zero tolerance for such unprofessional and unethical conduct such as harassment and molestation of innocent citizens. The Nigerian Army would always conduct itself professionally and responsibly in all its operations. Therefore, it is always advisable to always cross check facts before rushing to file or post such stories”.
Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman
Acting Director Army Public Relations