I don’t know his whereabouts”. -Major Generalhe Benson Akinroluyo (Theater Commander)
Fourty eight hours after the federal government's order to the Nigerian military to vacate daily Trust office and return their computers seized in Abuja office of Daily Trust on Sunday last week as well as clarification from the Spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman, the Regional Editor of the Daily Trust based in Maiduguri, Uthman Abubakar has not been released as at Tuesday.
The Regional Manager of the Daily Trust Maiduguri, Aminu Ado confirmed to the NUJ State Council and Correspjndents Chapel of the NUJ that Uthman Abubakar came to the office around 10 am in company of armed soldiers in the military vehicle from the Maimalari Cantonment, headquarters of both the Theater Command Operation Lafiya Dole and 7 Division of the Nigerian Army.
He added that Abubakar was in the office to pick a copy of the said Sunday Edition of the daily trust which contains the publication of the said story against national security, jointly jointly published by Hamya Idris, Abuja and Uthman Abubakar, Maiduguri.
According to him, immediately he picked up the copy of the newspaper from his office, he told the Regional Manager that , “nobody should worry. I will soon be released as my second, Ibrahim Sawab has been released whom we were arrested together on Sunday”.
Bit surprisingly, as at Tuesday morning he was not back because he has not been released.
The situation prompted the State NUJ Council and Correspondents Chapel executives and few members to embark on a Solidarity visit to register their concern and make appeal to meet with their colleague and if possible go home with him but to no avail as the Theater Commander, Major Generalhe Benson Akinroluyo said” I don't know his whereabouts”.
He solicted for the support and cooperation of working journalists in the state, stressing that, institution succeeds without the media but citing his good working relationship with the media in his former capacity as the GOC 3 Division NA.
General Benson further said that both the media and Military are partners in progress and stakeholders in the national interest and national security project called Nigeria as well as stakeholders in the restoration of peace in the North East.
He added that both the military and media have challenges in the operation and coverage of the boko Haram insurgency haven passed through the thick and thin of the insurgency.
The Theater Commander acknowledged the visit and pledged to maintain the cordial working relationship between the media and the military, noting that, from what transpired, the military has no intention to pick up anyone neither has it anyone in mind but to point out clearly that there are actions or issues and things that could be done or said by Nigerians that can be regarded by the Secuirty agencies to be threats to national security and national interest of the country which must be addressed.
He therefore said that, already the matter was being hàndle at the national headquarters and he will update the Maiduguri based journalists with any further development on the matter as he intends to forward the special appeal by the NUJ State Council and Correspondents Chapel executives and members over their colleague and member.
General Benson also assured that he will continue to relate with the media and intensify efforts to cement and concretize the seaming working relationship between the Nigerian Army and the media in the state and north east at large while soliciting for support and understanding from the Maiduguri based media in the coverage of military activities across the Theater Command.
He appealed to the journalists not to allow the recent misunderstanding between the military and daily trust to soar the established cordial working relationship in the fight against the insurgency.
Earlier, the Vice Chairman, NUJ Borno State Council, Aji Modu who led the NUJ and Chapel executives and members noted with great empathy the manner iurnalusta have sacrificed their lives and assiduously risking their lives to the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents and Operatios of the military at the Frontline.
The Secretary of the NUJ, Ibrahim Mohammed recalled the media -Military relations existing since the Advent of the insurgency despite the odds while the Secretary of the Chapel, Timothy Olarenwaju dwelt on the sacrifices and professionalism of the journalists covering Boko Haram insurgency which deserve commendation not condemnation by the military or attack on journalists who risk their lives and are at danger target of BHTs to be harassed or humiliated.
The Chairman, Corespondents Chapel, Haruna Dauda Biu however uregd the Theater Commander to allow the journalists to see and speak to their colleague in Military Custody and if possible convey Uthman home to meet his family to ease tenson.
But he declined on the excuse that the matter is beyond his control in maiduguri but will relate our appeal to the headquarters and whatever is the outcome, he will contact the NUJ.
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (local news)