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How Army intelligence unit Hacked My phone, Tracked my Movements, Cuffed my legs and put me in underground cell – Segun Olatunji

How Army intelligence unit Hacked My phone, Tracked my Movements, Cuffed my legs and put me in underground cell – Segun Olatunji

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A Nigerian journalist, Segun Olatunji, has regained his freedom after 14 days in a military detention facility in Abuja.
Mr Olatunji’s release was announced on Thursday at a joint presser by the International Press Institute, the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Abuja.

Mr Olatunji, the editor of FirstNews, was abducted from his home in Lagos, South-west, on 15 March. Hours later he was blindfolded and flown into Abuja on a military aircraft. But the military authorities denied Mr Olatunji’s abduction until Wednesday evening when they admitted detaining the journalist.  When confronted by three journalists associations in Nigeria, the Chief of Defence Staff, Christopher Musa, a general, and the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Emmanuel Undiandeye, a major general, “lied that the journalist was not in their custody.”

“The journalist (Mr Olatunji) was being detained and tortured by the Defence Intelligence Agency in Abuja,” the Secretary of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, who read the joint press statement said on Thursday.

At the press conference on Thursday, Mr Uwugiaren was flanked by Musikilu Mojeed, the Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times and President, of the International Press Institute in Nigeria as well as the President of the NUJ, Chris Isiguzo and Mr Olatunji. The IPI, NGE and NUJ had consistently demanded Mr Olatunji’s release.

How journalist was released
Narrating how Mr Olatunji regained his freedom on Thursday, Mr Uwugiaren said the Defence Intelligence Agency phoned Yomi Odunuga, a deputy editor at the Nation Newspaper, to come to its facility at Asokoro District of Abuja to collect the detained journalist.

While Mr Odunuga was riding in a car with Mr Uwugiaren in Abuja on Thursday, the pair kept receiving phone calls from the DIA, directing them to different places where they were to receive Mr Olatunji.
Eventually, the military personnel directed Messrs Odunuga and Uwugiaren to a bridge in Asokoro where Mr Olatunji was released to them after Mr Odunuga signed a bail bond for the detained journalist.
One of the conditions for Mr Olatunji’s release is that Mr Odunuga must produce the former whenever he is required in court.

My life is no longer safe, journalist cries out Recounting his ordeal at the hands of the military, Mr Olatunji said his life was no longer safe on account of the manner he was abducted from his home, blindfolded and tortured by the soldiers. He said the DIA hacked his phone, tracking his movements for weeks before his abduction on 15 March.

“My life is not safe because they (military) know my house. They had been trailing me three weeks before the arrest.
“My life is no longer safe given the manner the soldiers tracked me from my village to Lagos before my abduction.

“I was with my seven-year-old son when the army broke into the house. They bundled me into their vehicle,” he said.
Experience in detention Narrating his experience while in detention, Mr Olatunji said the military took away his eyeglasses before blindfolding him.

Thereafter, he said he was handcuffed.
“I was blindfolded and groaning in pain. I can still feel the numbness on my right wrist because of the handcuffs. They cuffed my legs and put me in an underground cell.

“They asked me about stories we carried about the Chief of Staff to the president (Femi Gbajabiamila.) Those behind my arrest were people in power who were not comfortable with our reporting.
“Last night, I was asked to call someone who would stand as a surety. It was then that I phoned Yomi Odunuga.”
He thanked Nigerian journalists and everyone who pressured the military for his release.

‘Tinubu shouldn’t condone Mr Olatunji’s abduction’

At the press briefing on Thursday, the journalists’ associations urged President Bola Tinubu not to condone the arbitrary arrest and detention of Mr Olatunji by the military.

They described the military’s action as “vicious, uncivilised and criminal.”
“The action is alien to Nigeria’s democratic space. It is now clear that some officers in our military are still finding it difficult to subject themselves to civil authority 24 years after our country returned to representative governance.

“If officers in a military institution like the DIA could hack a journalist’s telephone, mishandle his wife, abduct him, detain him secretly for 14 days and disobey senior officials of the federal government, then our democracy cannot be said to be safe,” Mr Uwugiaren said.

He noted that the military’s action was an attack on press freedom in Nigeria.
“Without freedom of the press, our democracy is endangered.”

The journalists acknowledged the efforts of Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, in securing Mr Olatunji’s release.

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