PREMIUM TIMES Journalist Summoned by Police Over Unpublished Land Dispute Story

By Joke Kujenya

AGAIN, THE Nigerian Police has summoned a journalist with PREMIUM TIMES, Emmanuel Agbo, over a pending investigative report concerning a contentious land dispute.

In an official invitation, dated May 31, 2024 and sent to Agbo via WhatsApp on Monday from the office of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in Abuja, the summons conveyed their intent.

This police action follows Agbo’s request for a formal summons after an initial phone call from a man identifying himself as Ezemba Ezekiel, a police officer. The call on May 30, asked Agbo to visit the IRT office in Guzape, Abuja, to address a petition linked to his report.

Ezemba Ezekiel, representing the Intelligence Response Team, stated over the phone, “I am calling you on behalf of Homadils. You are expected to come over to our office at Abattoir in Guzape to clarify a petition.” The firm, Homadils Realty Limited, a land developer embroiled in a land dispute central to Agbo’s story, was mentioned in this conversation.

Agbo had previously contacted Homadils’ CEO, Bilkisu Aliu, to discuss allegations from a family contesting ownership of the disputed land. Following this inquiry, Agbo asked for an official written invitation, which PREMIUM TIMES forwarded on his behalf.

The formal invitation letter, received on June 3 despite being dated May 31, named Agbo in connection with a petition but provided no further details. The letter required Agbo to appear at the IRT Complex in Guzape on June 5 at 2 pm.

PREMIUM TIMES, in response, pledged cooperation with the police investigation while requesting specifics of the petition to ensure Agbo could prepare adequately.

Managing Editor Idris Akinbajo, in a letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, emphasized the importance of transparency and detailed information to facilitate the journalist’s compliance and support for the investigation.

“We have received a letter inviting our reporter, Agbo Emmanuel, to your office on 05/06/2024. Although dated 31-05-2024, we only received it on 03-06-2024,” Akinbajo wrote.

He further reiterated PREMIUM TIMES’ commitment to assisting law enforcement and requested more details about the petition to allow Agbo to prepare appropriately.

The land dispute involving Homadils Realty Limited and a rival claimant has raised allegations of document falsification, currently under investigation by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).

This situation underscores growing concerns about police actions targeting journalists in Nigeria.

In a related incident in March, armed men from the Defence Intelligence Agency abducted Segun Olatunji, then editor of FirstNews newspaper, from his Lagos home, highlighting the increasing risks faced by journalists conducting legitimate investigative work in the country.

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