The Nigerian Army and online newspaper Premium Times are locked in a war of words over the reportage of the ongoing war on insurgency.
During the week, Premium Times reported that soldiers involved in the operation against terrorist sect, Boko Haram went on rampage as they threatened to shoot some of their officers.
In its response at a press briefing, the Army through the Theatre Commander of ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’, Major General Lucky Irabor, accused the newspaper of being sympathetic to Boko Haram.
“Every publication from PREMIUM TIMES either eulogises Boko Haram or mischievously emphasise, beyond proportion, the challenges of ‘Operation Lafiya Dole.”
Premium Times says it has been reliably informed that weeks ago the Army placed it under close watch as it (Army) launched extensive discreet investigation to determine who its (Premium Times) numerous sources are.
The paper said the Army was irked over its reportage of the condition of troops in the battlefront. It added that the Army was also not happy with the paper’s series on missing soldiers in October.
At the press briefing, Irabor said, “Premium Times is isolated. The rest of the Media have (sic) shown patriotism, commitment and support for the operation. I wish to therefore commend these patriotic media houses and urge them to continue in that regard.”
In its reaction, the paper’s Managing Editor, Idris Akinbajo, in an email to reporters said it would continue to be courageous in exposing the atrocities of the Army.
“We must not be intimidated by the Army’s claim. We should continue with our courageous, fair and balanced reporting and ensure we continue to act as thorough professionals. That has remained and should continue to remain our watchword whether the Army and other security agencies like it or not.”
Akinbajo added, “The Army has a habit of labelling anyone who exposes its atrocities and failures of working against Nigeria’s interest.
“We are proud of our reporting and stand by our stories and will continue to act with utmost professionalism and patriotism in not only reporting on the army and Boko Haram, but in all our reports.
“The Nigerian Army and the establishment should by now know that our reporting are rooted in strong ethics and in huge consideration for national interest and the welfare of our people, including our troops.
“We will never be intimidated in this service to our country and its people.”