Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday raided the Head Office of The Sun Publishing Limited, publishers of The Sun Newspapers.
According to a statement by Newspaper, the operatives claimed the raid was on ‘orders from above’.
The media firm, which is owned by former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, had been the subject of a forfeiture order, obtained by the EFCC in a suit against Kalu.
The firm said it had filed an appeal, which was still pending in court and was shocked that its premises could be invaded by the Commission.
The statement claimed the raid, which lasted for one hour, subjected workers to crude intimidation, psychological and emotional trauma.
The statement said: “Law-abiding staff of The Sun Publishing Limited resumed work this morning, June 12, 2017, to behold heavily armed EFCC operatives in our company. They claimed to have “orders from above” to seal up the premises of The Sun Publishing Limited.
“At gunpoint, they ordered our security personnel to take them around the company premises, after which they proceeded to prevent staff from either entering or leaving the premises, and disrupted our circulation process.
“For one grueling hour, the 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, as they surveyed our premises.
“We recall that in 2007, (10 years ago) the EFCC had obtained an interim forfeiture order in respect of some assets of The Sun, attached to a suit against our Publisher, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, for which we have filed an appeal, which is still pending in court.
“We also recall that the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, had written a letter personally signed by him dated 23rd of May and received on the 7th of June, asking The Sun management to report to the Commission on 5th of June, detailing our operations in the last 10 years, on account of an interim order of forfeiture under appeal.
“As a law-abiding corporate citizen, our lawyer, Chief Chris Uche SAN, wrote the Commission to intimate the Agency that the issue was pending before the Court of Appeal. The receipt of our correspondence was duly acknowledged.
“We were therefore shocked that our premises would be invaded by the Commission under whatever guise. This is condemnable and reprehensible. No one, Agency or authority should be above the laws of our country. An abuse of the law is a recipe for chaos.
“Magu had in an earlier letter threatened to sue The Sun over a report published by one of our titles, pertaining to a report on investigation of a property allegedly traced to his wife. But up till now, we are yet to receive any court process.
“In the light of the above, we strongly view this onslaught against The Sun as a personal vendetta by the leadership of the Commission, and by extension a declaration of war against the media.
“In this invasion of our premises, it is crystal clear that what Magu and his Commission are after is not only to intimidate and muzzle us, but a furious attempt to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it. On the issue of the interim order, which he purportedly based his invasion, Magu knows the matter has been on appeal since 2007 for which hearing comes up this week. But rather than wait for the court process, the Commission under the leadership of Magu, typically resorted to self-help.
“We want the public to take note of this authoritarianism and highhandedness, which has been the hallmark of Magu’s leadership of the EFCC.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), has given the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) 72 hours to issue an apology to The Sun Publishing Limited or face a lawsuit.
Chairman of the Lagos NUJ, Deji Elumoye, described the sealing off of the newspaper house as “barbaric”.
“This is a great violation of the freedom of movement and association of the affected Nigerian citizens as entrenched in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended.
“The council, therefore, gives EFCC a 72-hour ultimatum to publicly apologise to The Sun management and the affected staff for the unwarranted siege, failure which we will not hesitate to ask our team of lawyers to seek redress in court,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, The Sun has filed a motion seeking an injunction restraining the EFCC from enforcing the forfeiture order against the paper.