The Nigerian Guild of Editors received with shock news of the invasion of the premises of the SUN Publishing Limited by heavily armed EFCC operatives in the early hours of June 12, 2017.The fierce looking operatives prevented staff of the organisation from either entering or leaving the premises of the company and disrupted the circulation processes.
The unwarranted siege to the company subjected staff of the organisation to crude intimidation, psychological and emotional trauma.
The EFCC had accused THE SUN of publishing pro-Biafra , Boko Haram and Niger Delta militant stories.
The latest action of the EFCC on a newspaper house is a sad reminder of the dark years of military dictatorship and a deliberate effort to muzzle the press.
As a statutory agency birthed by an Act of Parliament in a democracy, we had expected the EFCC to explore civil means of addressing perceived infraction by a critical stakeholder in the Nigerian democratic project.
Rather than see the Fourth Estate of the Realm as an opposition, the Commission should realise that the media is an indispensable partner in its fight against corruption.
The Guild notes that the latest affront on THE SUN by operatives of the EFCC is one in a number of targeted attempts by a section of the nation’s security apparatchik to gag free press. We recall the recent expulsion of Mr. Olalekan Adetayo, the State House correspondent of Punch Newspapers from Aso Rock by Bashir Abubakar, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The alleged forfeiture order the EFCC brandished this morning is 10 years old and a matter still before the Court of Appeal. The Guild wonders why the Commission felt it had to act ahead of a case before a court of competent jurisdiction.
It bears restating that such an attempt to intimidate the media does incalculable damage to the image of the EFCC and indeed the Nigerian government. Besides, it does not only undermine the foundation of our young democracy, it is a major threat to its sustenance and existence.
The Guild condemns the EFFC action in its entirety and calls on the Commission to purge itself of all anti-democratic tendencies in order to foster mutual cooperation with the media and other stakeholders in its crusade against graft.
The Guild calls on the EFCC to put an end to its current attempts to gag the Press and also demands an unreserved apology from the Commission to the SUN Publishing Limited.