A Nigerian journalist with Premium Times is currently in hiding after the Department of State Services hounded him over a report he wrote about the rift between the National Security AdviserBabagana Monguno and President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff Abba Kyari.
Samuel Ogundipe wrote a detailed report in which he exposed the simmering fight for control within Buhari’s inner circle.
He detailed how Monguno cautioned all the service chiefs against taking orders from Kyari, whom he (Monguno) accused in a memo addressed to Buhari of interfering in security matters.
“You are reminded that the Chief of Staff to the President is not a presiding head of security, neither is he sworn to an oath of defending the country,” Monguno said in the leaked memo.
Two sources told The Guardian that Ogundipe has gone into hiding since the DSS started asking him to provide the source of his information.
“His email and WhatsApp were hacked overnight by the people suspected to be DSS during the week,” one of the sources said on Saturday.
“They even went to his house in Abuja but he was not there.”
“We find it extremely disturbing that Nigerian Government through the DSS is moving to arrest Samuel Ogundipe over leaked NSA’s letter on Abba Kyari,” a civil rights organisation EiE said. “This campaign to harass, intimidate and silence journalists violates the core principles of democracy.”
The managing editor of Premium Times Idris Akinbanjo told ICIR that he was aware that the DSS was looking to arrest Ogundipe to identify the source of the memo which he cited in his report. He, however, said the journalist has not been arrested.
“We know that the DSS are desperate to identify our source for the story but we are reviewing the situation,” Akinbanjo said.
This is not the first time the Nigerian security agents will be harassing the Ogundipe to get the source of his reports.
Ogundipe spent three days in a police cell in August 2018 after publishing the details of a report sent to the then acting president Yemi Osinbajo by the then inspector general of police, Ibrahim Idris, on events that took place at the National Assembly on August 7.
The police said Ogundipe was arrested for being in possession of classified information and demanded that he named his source.
Ogundipe, after his release, said he was kept in a “fetid cage” along with persons arrested for “violent crimes”.
“I spent three days in detention. But it was enough time for me to appreciate the precarious fate of journalism in Nigeria, despite nearly two decades of uninterrupted civil rule. I felt terrible to be incarcerated and isolated and accused of crimes that were clearly unfounded,” he said in 2018.