The Nigerian Army on Monday explained why its personnel invaded the offices of Daily Trust Newspapers in Maiduguri, Abuja, Lagos and Kaduna on Sunday.
The spokesperson of the Army, Sani Usman, a brigadier general, in a statement said, “Soldiers of the Nigerian Army along with elements of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies were indeed at Abuja and Maiduguri offices of the publishing company to invite the staff of the company over its lead story on Sunday Trust publication.”
Mr Usman said the story, “divulged classified military information, thus undermining national security.”
The Army spokesperson accused the newspaper of disclosing details of planned military operations against 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,” he said.
He also said the story gave the Boko Haram sect prior notice of the Army’s plans while also alerting it to prepare against the Nigerian military.
Mr Usman said the publication sabotaged the planned operation and put the lives of troops in imminent and clear danger.
“We would like to state 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,” he said.
“We therefore advice all, particularly journalists, not to worry but engage in their responsive reportage and to be professional as the Nigerian Army has no intention of muzzling the press or jeopardising press freedom.
“We however, wish to enjoin further that they should eschew jeopardizing national security in their reportage. We 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,” he said.