The Department of State Services has invited an investigative reporter at the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (The ICIR), Niyi Oyedeji for questioning.
According to the newspaper, Oyedeji was invited by telephone on Thursday by one Bayo Paul, who claimed to be an official of the DSS, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command.
“Paul asked the reporter if he was a member of Transparency Integrity Group, to which he declined. Paul tried to coerce the journalist into telling him his name, but the reporter stood his ground, refusing to disclose his name on the phone.
“He called back a few minutes later, mentioned the reporter’s name, and asked him to report to the SSS (State Security Service) office in Abuja on Friday by 10 am. When asked how he got the reporter’s number, Paul said he got it from the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),” the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, Editor of The ICIR, Ajibola Amzat contacted Paul minutes later to ask why the SSS, as a responsible organisation, would not invite the reporter in writing, but he replied that the organisation would sometimes call to invite persons for interrogation.
“We do call, we do call. The only thing is to verify the source of the call. I am not inviting you to anywhere apart from the office. You can as well trace the number and ask the source or owner of the number if genuinely I am a staff (member) of the State Security Service,” Paul told The ICIR Editor.
When asked the reason for the invitation, the newspaper quoted Paul as saying, “My boss did not tell me. He only gave me his number, his name, and he asked me to invite him to his office.”
Meanwhile, The ICIR has insisted on an official letter from the SSS to ensure the invitation emanates from the organisation.
There has been a clampdown on journalists by the DSS in recent times.
In August 2019, the domestic intelligence agency with a history of repression arrested human rights activist and Publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore in Lagos.
Sowore was moved to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja where he was illegally detained for 144 days despite different court orders issued for his release.
The DSS accused the activist of baseless crimes like money laundering and that he was plotting to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari even though it failed to produce any evidence to substantiate its claim.
In March 2018, the DSS arrested Daily Independent Abuja Bureau Chief Tony Ezimakor. Later in the year, the secret police arrested Jones Abiri and detained him for two years for allegedly having links with ‘rebels.’
He was re-arrested in March 2019.
In August 2019, former Editor at Daily Trust Ibrahim Dan-Halilu was arrested for a Facebook post expressing support for the ‘RevolutionNow’ campaign.
In December 2019, TVC’s journalist Bukola Samuel-Wemimo was detained by the secret police at its Magodo office in Lagos.
In 2020, former Premium Times investigative reporter Samuel Ogundipe was hounded by the SSS because he reported on the rift between the National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno and President Muhammadu Buhari’s late Chief of Staff Abba Kyari.