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[file] Acting President Osinbajo presided August 15, 2018 Federal Executive Council (FEC) Meeting. PHOTO/TWITTER/APCnigeria

The National Economic Council (NEC) yesterday resolved to decentralise police operations across the country to curb insecurity.

National Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Monguno made the disclosure after a meeting presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He told State House correspondents: “The council decided that a committee would be set up with representation from each of the geo­political zones, chaired by the

Inspector-General of Police (IGP), so that we find ways of decentralising police operations, so that there will be greater access to information.

Handling this situation will be easier rather than a centralised and cumbersome approach.”

Those invited to make presentations included the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique; Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar; Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and the Acting Director General of Department for State Services (DSS), Matthew Seiyefa.

Fielding questions on alleged lack of central security coordination and how it might have led to the recent police siege on the Benue State House of Assembly complex and the DSS invasion of the National Assembly, Monguno said: “It is not easy to coordinate.

Yes, all security agencies are supposed to be centrally coordinated but sometimes we have issues.

But these issues are being addressed right now and that is probably why we are beginning to see some improvements.”

Also, answering questions on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s probe of security funds in some states, Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, said the matter “was discussed and the position is that we will have our lawyers see the legality of doing that.

After giving us the report, we will see the next line of action to take.”

Meanwhile, the police yesterday teargased a presidential aspirant, Omoyele Sowore and members of civil society organisations during a peaceful protest to demand the release of Premium Times reporter, Samuel Ogundipe.

The journalist was arrested Tuesday for writing a story based on a letter written to Osinbajo by the IGP.

The protesters, who arrived at the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja as early as 9:00 a.m. were, however, barred by a human chain of officers.

There was commotion as the irritant sent some of the marchers scampering for safety.

The protesters included entertainer Charles Oputa, better known as Charly Boy, and human rights activist, Deji Adeyanju.

Rights watchdog, ActionAid Nigeria, also backed the immediate release of the reporter, describing his arrest as an attempt to undermine press freedom and the principles of democracy.

“Nigeria is not a police state; so journalists should not be persecuted for executing their responsibility of informing and educating the public.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows citizens access to public records and information held by public officials or institutions,” the organisation said in a statement by Country Director Ene Obi.

But the police insisted Ogundipe has a case to answer.

“The Force is categorically stating that one Samuel Ogundipe is being investigated and prosecuted for the offences of theft and unlawful possession of restricted and classified documents inimical to state/national security that can jeopardise peace, breakdown of law and order capable of precipitating crisis in the country,” it said in a statement.

“Mr. Samuel Ogundipe is also being investigated and prosecuted under other offences which violate the Official Secret Act, Cyber Crime Act, and the Penal Code Law for which he has volunteered statements and is standing trial.

“The Force and the media are veritable partners in ensuring peace, law and order in the country, but it will not compromise or allow an offender to go scot-free or pervert the end of justice.”

In a related case, another journalist, Mr. Jones Abiri, could be set free today for lack of evidence against him.

The magistrate at Court 5, Wuse, Abuja, Chukwuemeka Nweke, gave the indication yesterday.

The DSS had held the publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Weekly Source for two years without trial and had only recently arraigned him following growing public outcry.

The context seemed perfect for President Muhammadu Buhari’s special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, to urge journalists to adhere to ethics of the profession before, during and after the 2019 polls.

He warned that fake news and hate speech could destroy the media itself.

He spoke during the 2018 Press Week of the Kogi Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Lokoja.



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