The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has debunked alleged molestation of staff of The Sun Publishing Limited, publishers of The Sun Newspapers, by its operatives.
The newspaper had earlier alleged that “heavily armed’’ EFCC operatives invaded its Lagos office on Monday morning and subjected its workers to molestation and intimidation.
It claimed that the raid lasted for one hour during which the workers were subjected to “crude intimidation, psychological and emotional trauma’’.
”At gunpoint, they ordered our security personnel to take them round the company premises, after which they proceeded to prevent staff from either entering or leaving the premises, and disrupted our circulation process.
”For one gruelling hour, EFCC operatives subjected our staff to crude intimidation, psychological and emotional trauma.
“Some of the men accused our organisation of publishing pro-Biafra, Boko Haram and Niger Delta militant stories, as they surveyed our premises,’’ the company said.
Owned by a former governor of Abia, Orji Uzor Kalu, the media firm is the subject of a forfeiture order obtained by the EFCC in a money laundering suit filed against Kalu.
The newspaper said an appeal it filed against the forfeiture order was still pending in court, wondering why its premises would be invaded by the commission.
Reacting to the allegation through a statement, spokesman of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, described The Sun’s allegations as diversionary.
He said, “Operatives of the EFCC in the early hours of Mondayvisited the head office of the Sun Newspaper in Lagos.
”The visit which lasted for less than an hour was part of routine efforts to ascertain the state of the assets of the publishing company which is subject of subsisting interim forfeiture order.
”Prior to the visit, the commission had written to the management of the company to account for its management of the assets for the period of the subsisting court order.’’
He said the anti-graft agency was still awaiting the response of The Sun, and would not be distracted by any attempt to whip up sentiments by referring to an appeal which has been pending for 10 years.
He said the commission’s action was devoid of prejudice to any appeal and only meant to verify the integrity of the assets.
“Contrary to claims in a statement released to the media by the management of the Sun, no staff of the media outfit was molested or intimidated for the few minutes that operatives of the Commission spent in the premises of the company.
”The claim that `’EFCC operatives subjected our staff to crude intimidation, psychological and emotional trauma, even as some of the men accused our organization of publishing pro-Biafra, Boko Haram , and Niger Delta Militant stories’, is strange and clearly the figment of the imagination of The Sun.
“There was no reason to molest anybody as the commission has always related professionally with the publishing outfit.”
Uwujaren added that the attempt also to link the visit to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu’s threat to sue the organisation over a libelous publication was also diversionary.
He said Magu was pursuing that option in his private capacity, noting that a letter written by his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, to the newspaper was widely published in the media on March 31.