The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has explained the presence of its operatives at the Sun Newspapers in Lagos today.
The EFCC said The Sun Newspaper, which is owned by former Abia governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, has been under forfeiture order and that its operatives only visited to check the integrity of the company’s assets.
According to the agency’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, its men did not spend more than 30 minutes in the company. The EFCC is prosecuting Orji Kalu for alleged fraud against the Government of Abia State when he was governor.
The SUN today filed an action at an Abuja High Court to restrain the EFCC, while the Nigerian Union of Journalists said it would also sue the EFCC over the alleged invasion of the newspaper. The Nigerian Guild of Editors said the forfeiture order that the EFCC relied on is over 10 years old.
Here is Uwujaren’s statement:
Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in the early hours of today, June 12, 2017 visited the head office of the Sun Newspaper in Lagos.
The visit which lasted for less an hour was part of routine efforts to ascertain the state of the assets of the publishing company which is subject of subsisting interim forfeiture order. Prior to the visit, the Commission had written to the management of the company to account for its management of the assets for the period of the subsisting court order.
The Commission still awaits the response of the Sun and will not be distracted by any attempt to whip up sentiments by alluding to an appeal which has been pending for ten years. The Commission’s action is without prejudice to any appeal and only meant to verify the integrity of the assets.
Contrary to claims in a statement released to the media by the management of the Sun, no staff of the media outfit was molested or intimidated for the few minutes that operatives of the Commission spent in the premises of the company.
The claim that “EFCC operatives subjected our staff to crude intimidation, psychological and emotional trauma, even as some of the men accused our organisation of publishing pro-Biafra, Boko Haram , and Niger Delta Militant stories ,” is strange and clearly the figment of the imagination of the Sun.
There was no reason to molest anybody as the commission has always related professionally with the publishing outfit. The attempt also to link the visit to the acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu’s threat to sue the organization over a libelous publication is also diversionary.
Magu is pursuing that option in his private capacity and his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, did write the Sun and his letter was widely published in the media on March 31, 2017″.