The Police have released journalists of Peoples Gazette, an online platform, who were arrested earlier on Friday.
According to the news outlet, men of the Federal Capital Territory Police Command raided its head office in Utako, Abuja, on Friday afternoon.
Peoples Gazette said five armed police officers broke into the paper’s office opposite NNPC Quarters in Utako and arrested Mr John Adenekan, an Assistant Managing Editor.
The officers were said to have later returned to the office to arrest four other staff members – Ameedat Adeyemi, Grace Oke, Sammy Ogbu and Justina Tayani.
“The officers declined to state the reason for their assault but demanded to see the paper’s Managing Editor, Samuel Ogundipe, and reporter Adefemola Akintade,” the newspaper said.
But both journalists were reportedly not available during the operation, prompting the officers to arrest Mr Adenekan.
But on Friday night, Gazette announced that that had been freed.
“We are excited about the release of our colleagues, John Adenekan and Grace Oke,” Managing Editor Samuel Ogundipe said Friday evening. “We thank our lawyers and the Nigerian public for mounting appropriate pressure.”
Ogundipe thanked all Nigerians and organisations, including the CPJ and SERAP, who showed solidarity towards The Gazette, saying the fight to detach Nigeria from the brutalities of its dark days should be sustained.
Earlier, spokesman of the FCT Police Command, DSP Josephine Adeh, said the journalists and staff members of the newspaper were only invited for questioning over a petition written against them accusing the paper of defaming the character of Tukur Buratai, former Chief of Army Staff.
“Our officers did not raid any media house. We don’t raid media houses because we know better, and media houses are not criminal hideouts.”
“Someone had written a petition accusing the newspaper of defamation of character. The newspaper was accused of defaming the character of the former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai. However, we got a warrant from the court to invite them for questioning.
“So, the fact of the matter is that there was a petition against Peoples Gazette, and they are not above the law. So, if someone had written a petition against them, the right thing to do is to invite them, and that was what we did. We invited them for further investigation, and we carried the Nigerian Union of Journalists along on this matter. We’re not taking any action behind the NUJ, and there is also a warrant from the court to invite Peoples Gazette for questioning.
“We have no malicious intent for inviting them. Our officers went to Peoples Gazette office this morning to invite them to come to give a statement in response to the petition at the Utako police station. And as I speak to you, the NUJ Secretary is with them at the Utako police station as they’re making their statements,” she had said.