THE SUN INVASION: NUJ threatens to sue EFCC

The Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), has condemned the Monday, invasion of the Apapa-Lagos premises of The Sun Newspapers by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC)

The Council in a statement issued by the Chairman, Deji Elumoye, described as barbaric the gestapo- style seal up of the newspaper house.

Elumoye also stated that should EFCC fail to tender public apology to The Sun Newspaper and the NUJ, the body of journalists would be left with the option of pressing charges in court against EFCC for stifling the press and infringing on the rights of the affected workers of the media organisation.

The Union wondered why EFCC will ransack the premises of the media outfit without any search warrant and subject innocent workers to unnecessary harassment and stress.

According to the statement, the EFCC by the invasion had infringed on the fundamental human rights of the workers whose movement in and out of the company was curtailed by security operatives for over an hour

“This is a great violation of the freedom of movement and association of the affected Nigerian citizens as entrenched in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended”. The Council, therefore, gives EFCC a 72-hour ultimatum to publicly apologise to The Sun management and the affected staff for the unwarranted siege “failure which we will not hesitate to ask our team of lawyers to seek redress in court”.

Lagos NUJ added that if The Sun as a media outfit had erred or had issues with EFCC or anybody/organisation, the court is the proper place to seek redress “rather than taking the laws into their hands as EFCC just did”

The invasion of The Sun Newspaper corporate office early Monday morning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), may be connected to a personal grouse the chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu has against the media organisation.

This was the observation of a lawyer that spoke to The Sun on anonymity in reaction to the incident that held the media house captive for about an hour when some 15 armed operatives of the commission stormed the Kirikiri office of The Sun, for a reason they are yet to disclose.

The only reason the operatives gave was that they had an order “from above” to launch the onslaught on The Sun, while the written order they displayed as evidence to legitimize the raid was signed by Magu himself.

In reaction to the invasion which was deemed a breach on the freedom of the media by the EFCC, the management of The Sun had in a statement noted that the attack was to cow the media over personal issues Magu has against it.

On May 30, Magu through his lawyer had written The Sun threatening to sue the organization over what he called unfavourable report published in The Sun of May 25 where our investigation uncovered an allegation that ownership of certain property in Abuja is traceable to Magu’s wife

The report had indicated that the development called for concern over the image of the head of the nation’s anti corruption body.

Although Magu in the letter had indicated an intention to sue in relation to the report, he never got in touch with The Sun and neither did the EFCC come with any court processes or order during the invasion.

The statement noted that: “Magu had in an earlier letter threatened to sue The Sun over a report published by one of our titles, pertaining to a report on investigation of a property allegedly traced to his wife. But up till now, we are yet to receive any court process.

In the light of the above, we strongly view this onslaught against The Sun as a personal vendetta by the leadership of the Commission, and by extension a declaration of war against the media.

In this invasion of our premises, it is crystal clear that what Magu and his Commission are after is not only to intimidate and muzzle us, but a furious attempt to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it.”

In another development, The Sun management also did a recall of a pending litigation between it and the EFCC that started in 2007 when the commission invaded The Sun.

“We recall that in 2007, (10 years ago) the EFCC had obtained an interim forfeiture order in respect of some assets of The Sun, attached to a suit against our Publisher, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, for which we have filed an appeal, which is still pending in court. The matter would come up for hearing later this week.

We also recall that the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu had written a letter personally signed by him dated 23rd of May and received on the 7th of June, asking The Sun management to report to the Commission on 5th of June, detailing our operations in the last 10 years, on account of the interim order of forfeiture under appeal

As law abiding corporate citizen, our lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, wrote the Commission to intimate the Agency that the issue was pending before the court of Appeal. The receipt of our correspondence was duly acknowledged.

We were therefore shocked that our premises would be invaded by the Commission under whatever guise. This is condemnable and reprehensible. No one, Agency or authority should be above the laws of our country. An abuse of the law is a recipe for chaos.”

 






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