The Nigerian Army says it does not have any intention to silence the press.
Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman, stated this in reaction to the shut down the offices of Daily Trust by security personnel in Abuja and Maiduguri.
He explained that the security operatives were at the offices to invite the staff of the newspaper over a story published on Sunday.
Brigadier General Usman alleged that in the process of publishing the story, classified military information was revealed.
According to him, the newspaper disclosed details of planned military operations against Boko Haram insurgents, thereby undermining national security.
The Army spokesman added that this amounted to sabotaging the planned operations and endangering the lives of troops in the disturbed region.
The shutdown of the offices of the newspaper sparked widespread criticism while the Presidency ordered the security operatives to vacate the premises.
Having complied with the Presidential directive, the Army called on the media to be professional in its duty and insisted that it has no intention to silence the press.
Read the full statement below;
The Nigerian Army wishes to clarify on alleged invasion of Media Trust Headquarters in Abuja and regional office in Maiduguri. We would like to state that soldiers of the Nigerian Army along with elements of 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, which divulged classified military information, thus undermining national security.
In it, the newspaper made 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.
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.
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 wish to appeal to all, especially the media, to join hands with the Nigerian military and security forces to end terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.
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.
You are please requested to disseminate this information to the public through your medium.
Thank you for your kind cooperation.
SANI KUKASHEKA USMAN
Director Army Public Relations