Premium Times Reply Army: “No Retraction or Apologies”

Premium Times Reply Army: “No Retraction or Apologies”

“No Retraction, No Apologies” – Premium Times Reply Army.

Online News Portal, Premium Times has replied the Letter written by The Nigerian Army threatening to sue them for Posting Malicious and Defamatory publications against the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, a Lieutenant General, and the army’s counter-insurgency operation in the north-east of the country.

The medium pointedly told the Army and their high command that they should expect neither a retraction nor apologies.

In other words, Premium Times stands by its story.

The reports, as Premium Times puts it, were those on the planned invitation of Mr. Buratai by the Code of Conduct Bureau for asset verification, disappearance of a high number of soldiers after a Boko Haram attack and an investigation detailing how soldiers allegedly killed a kidnapped pastor and labeled him a kidnapper.

ALSO READ: How Army Dragged Premium Times To Court

The army, in its letter of 22 December 2016, described the reports as “false,” “unsubstantiated,” and “unprofessional.” “Despite the fact that your unprofessional publications are injurious to the personality of the leadership of the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Army as a whole, it may interest you to know that your attempts have failed woefully to malign and impugn the hard-earned character of the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army,” the letter said.

Worse still, the Army alleged that “ these stories published without reference to the Nigerian Army in order to have a balance, have without doubt exposed your deep hatred for the leadership of the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Army as a service and the Nigerian nation for undisclosed reasons. It is submitted that your unprofessional one sided and unprovoked attacks on the Nigerian Army and its leadership, especially with regards to its operation in the Country have confirmed your unalloyed loyalty to the terrorist cause.

The letter therefore ordered PREMIUM TIMES to retract the said publications and apologise to Mr. Buratai and the Nigerian Army.

However, Premium Times, through its lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, wrote:

“Our clients hereby state unequivocally that there is no truth whatsoever in any of the claims you made in your said letter. Our clients do not have any hatred, deep or shallow, for anyone in the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Army as an institution, or indeed the Nigerian State. Our clients have no loyalty to any terrorists’ cause or to any terrorist organization, including Boko Haram. Our clients’ stories were well checked, and their procedure was professional. Our clients therefore will not retract their stories and will not tender reserved or unreserved apology as demanded by you and your principals.

Published below are the letter by the Army and Premium Times’s reply:

Major General I. M Alkali,
Headquarters,
Nigerian Army,
Ministry of Defence,
Area 7, Gark.i
PMB 239, Abuja, FCT.
E-mail : ahq.doaa@army.mil.org

Dear Major-General I.M Alkali,

RE: REQUEST FOR THE RETRACTION OF THE UNAUTHORIZED FALSE LIBELOUS AND DEFAMATORY PUBLICATION BY PREMIUM TIMES AGAINST THE PERSON OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL T Y BURATAI THE CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF AND WITHDRAWAL OF UNAUTHORIZED FALSE PUBLICATIONS ON NIGERIAN ARMY OPERATIONS.

We act as Solicitors to Premium Times Services Limited, owner and publisher of Premium Times, the leading online newspaper in Nigeria; Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer, Premium Times Services Limited; and the members of staff of Premium Times Services Limited, and journalists working with Premium Times, including Evelyn Okakwu and Samuel Ogundipe ( all, jointly hereinafter referred to as “ our clients” ) on whose behalf and instructions we write this letter.

Your Letter under reference, Reference No.AHQ DOAA/G1/300/200 of 22nd December 2016, addressed to Publisher and Chief Executive Officer, Premium Times Services Limited has been passed to us. We have been fully briefed in respect of the grave and weighty allegations contained in the letter, and we hereby make the following representations on behalf of our clients.

1. The said letter was written for and on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, General T.Y Buratai, “the complainant”, whom we assume delegated the power to write the letter to you.

2. The said letter, which, for ease of reference, and for a proper appreciation of its purports, is hereunder reproduced in full, complains about the stories published in Premium Times. The letter states:

22nd December, 2016

AHQ DOAA/GI/300/200

Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi
The Editor -in- Chief/Managing Director
Premium Times Services Limited
53 Mambolo Street
Zone 2
Wuse
Abuja

REQUEST FOR THE RETRACTION OF THE UNAUTHORIZED FALSE LIBELOUS AND DEFAMATORY PUBLICATION BY PREMIUM TIMES AGAINST THE PERSON OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL TY BURATAI THE CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF AND WITHDRAWAL OF UNAUTHORIZED FALSE PUBLICATIONS ON NIGERIAN ARMY OPERATIONS.

1. The Nigerian Army has observed with dismay the unwarranted serial provocative, unauthorised, libelous and defamatory publications against the person of Lieutenant General T.Y Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, Nigerian Army and Nigerian Army counter insurgency operations in the North East by your online newspaper, The Premium Times. The latest in series of offensive publications was written by Evelyn Okakwu on 12 December, 2016 alleging that the Chief of Army Staff in the person of Lieutenant General T.Y, Buratai was to appear before the Code Conduct of Bureau over false asset declaration. Other similarly false, publications include the one captioned: “Exclusive: 83 Nigerian Soldiers still missing days after Boko Haram attack” written by Samuel Ogundipe on 21 October, 2016. As if that is not enough, on 19 November, 2016, there was another false and unsubstantiated story published in your newspaper alleging that the Nigerian Army killed a pastor and labeled him a militant among numerous unprofessional publications.

2. These stories published without reference to the Nigerian Army in order to have a balance, have without doubt exposed your deep hatred for the leadership of the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Army as a service and the Nigerian nation for undisclosed reasons. It is submitted that your unprofessional one sided and unprovoked attacks on the Nigerian Army and its leadership, especially with regards to its operation in the Country have confirmed your unalloyed loyalty to the terrorist cause.

3. It is obvious that the Nigerian Army have always cooperated and worked in harmony with the press. Let it be known that the Code of Conduct Bureau through their letters dated 11 July and 29 September, 2016 cleared the Chief of Army Staff of false asset declaration. Equally, there was no time that 83 Nigerian army soldiers were missing as a result of Boko Haram attack. Nor did Nigerian army kill a pastor and labeled him a militant. One then wonders where your organisation got your false stories from. Despite the fact that your unprofessional publications are injurious to the personality of the leadership of the Nigerian army and the Nigerian army as a whole, it may interest you to know that your attempt have failed woefully to malign and impugn the hard earned good character of the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army.

4. In view of the foregoing, you are hereby advised to immediately retract the said unauthorized false, libelous and malicious stories against the person of Lieutenant General T.Y Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff and withdraw all false and unauthorized publications on the Nigerian army operations as published by your online medium, the Premium Times forthwith. Your retraction should be done in at least 3 national dailies and in online newspapers for 3 days consecutively from 29 – 31 December, 2016. You are to also publish an apology to the Chief of Army staff and the Nigerian Army in 3 Nigerian newspapers and online publications. Failure to retract and withdraw the said publications by Premium Times services Limited on or before 31 December, 2016. The Nigerian Army Team of Lawyers will be instructed to proceed against you in court.

5. Please accept the warm assurances of the Chief of Army Staffs highest esteem.
I.M Alkali
Major General
for: Chief of Army Staff

cc:
Chief of Army Staff

3. Whilst our clients can understand your disappointment that Premium Times published reports which you did not find favourable to the Nigerian Army, which you are at liberty to deny if you had exercised the right of reply on behalf of your principals, by writing a rejoinder in Premium Times, or by using other news media to so do, our clients, hard as they have tried, cannot understand why you used that letter to level very grave accusations against them, brazenly threaten them, and violate or attempt to violate their rights to life, dignity of the human person, personal liberty and freedom of expression and the press, respectively guaranteed by Sections 33, 34, 35 and 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, and relevant international human rights protecting instruments.

4. In case you did not, while penning your letter, measure the words therein deployed or weigh carefully the meanings, import and intendments of the words used in the allegations contained therein, we draw your attention to the second paragraph of your letter which alleged that “ these stories published without reference to the Nigerian Army in order to have a balance, have without doubt exposed your deep hatred for the leadership of the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Army as a service and the Nigerian nation for undisclosed reasons. It is submitted that your unprofessional one sided and unprovoked attacks on the Nigerian Army and its leadership, especially with regards to its operation in the Country have confirmed your unalloyed loyalty to the terrorist cause.

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