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Police: Reason for Our Visit to the Peoples Gazette Office

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The Nigerian Police Force’s Federal Capital Territory Command has refuted reports that it raided the offices of the Peoples Gazette newspaper.

Police allegedly carried out a raid on the newspaper’s Abuja offices on Friday and detained a number of employees, including editors and journalists.

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According to a Peoples Gazette story, five armed police officers rushed into the newspaper’s office across from NNPC Quarters in Utako at about 12:35 p.m. and took away John Adenekan, an assistant managing editor.

Later, the officers went back to the workplace and detained Ameedat Adeyemi, Grace Oke, Sammy Ogbu, and Justina Tayani.

The officers requested to speak with the paper’s managing editor, Samuel Ogundipe, and reporter Adefemola Akintade but denied to give a cause for their attack.

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However, because neither journalist was present throughout the operation, the cops instead chose to detain Mr. Adenekan, continuing an unlawful practice of detaining friends instead of persons of interest.

Ogundipe and Akintade, who penned an article on former Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, were arrested when security personnel searched the newspaper’s headquarters, a dependable source within the police department verified to our correspondent (retd.).

Police acted when an Abuja-based publisher named Isah Bello filed a lawsuit against Peoples Gazette for allegedly defaming the ambassador to the Benin Republic a few days prior.

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On June 23, the publication said that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission conducted a search of a supposedly Buratai property and found 50 expensive watches among other stuff.

Bello, however, alleged in his lawsuit filed before the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja that the newspaper ignored a letter it received on June 28, 2022, asking for clarification on the story’s source.

He claims that the failure to answer to the inquiry was unlawful and unjust since it violated section 4(a) of the 2011 Freedom of Information Act.

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Osuagwu Ugochukwu filed the petition, asking the court to persuade the defendant to provide the information outlined in his letter.

However, in response to the report, the Command’s public relations officer, DSP Josephine Adeh, who spoke with our correspondent, asserted that the newspaper’s reporters and staff members were only called in for questioning because of a petition that was filed against them accusing the publication of defaming Buratai.

“Our officers did not search any media house,” DSP Adeh stated. Since we are aware of better practices and since media outlets are not used as criminal hideouts, we don’t raid them.

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“A petition was written by someone accusing the newspaper of character assassination. The journal was charged with disparaging Tukur Buratai’s reputation as the former Chief of Army Staff. We did, however, obtain a court order for us to question them.

“So, the truth of the situation is that Peoples Gazette was the target of a petition, and they are not above the law. Therefore, the correct thing to do is to invite them if someone had signed a petition against them, and that is what we did. We carried the Nigerian Union of Journalists along on this case and invited them for more inquiry. We are not acting in support of the NUJ, and the court has also issued a warrant allowing them to question the Peoples Gazette.

“We invited them with no malice in mind. Our officers visited the Peoples Gazette office this morning to extend an invitation for them to attend the Utako police station to provide a statement in response to the petition. And as I speak with you, they are making statements at the Utako police station with the NUJ Secretary present.

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