The Nigerian Army has reportedly removed a journalist, Amadin Uyi from a WhatsApp group its communications unit created and operates for the benefit of newsmen.
The Director of Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, and other spokespersons in the Army utilise the platform to disseminate information to reporters.
Uyi, the Abuja Bureau Chief of News Central TV, drew the WhatsApp group administrators’ irk after enquiring about arms funds.
“The COAS conference has posed many questions needing answers. The Chief of Army Staff says he will work towards addressing logistic challenges; this is really shocking, considering the fact that about 2.6 trillion naira has been spent between 2015 and 2019. We really want to know what he really means by this statement,” Uyi had asked.
The pressman was, however, removed from the group shortly after his message by an officer, Muhammad Isa Yahaya, a development News Central condemned in a statement.
The company noted that Uyi has covered the Nigerian military and defence operations for close to a decade.
It said the staff raised the question about the comment by the COAS, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru at a press conference and even volunteered to send a reportorial crew to get his reaction.
“With such a huge amount expended within the period, Amadin Uyi also questioned the COAS’s remark that directives had been given for “more weapons to be procured”, when the initially disbursed funds could have purchased enough armaments.
“Because the public will want details, Uyi also asked if the army had previously abandoned the damaged and unserviceable equipment in the theatre of war after the COAS talked about back-loading them and instructing that they be repaired immediately.
“Rather than address these concerns to satisfy public curiosity and accountability, the Nigerian Army Public Relations Unit simply took Amadin Uyi off the platform after challenging him for asking what they described as “irrelevant questions.”
The media house urged the Nigerian Army to address the questions raised, adding that the journalist had conducted himself with utmost professionalism.
Journalists and members of civil society have criticized the action.
The Nigerian Army has remained silent on the issue.