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DIA’s tales by moonlight, an afterthought, by First News Editor


DIA’s tales by moonlight, an afterthought, by First News Editor

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A Statement by the General Editor of First News, Mr Segun Olatunji on the lies published by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) on April 29, 2024 on his March 15th abduction in Lagos by armed operatives of the security Agency.

Gentlemen of the Press,

My attention has just been drawn to a report published today by an obscure online website titled, “Online Publisher admits to false story against Gbajabiamila, seeks forgiveness
… Segun Olatunji apologises and reveals contract to fabricate defamatory article.”

It’s curious that the DIA has suddenly just found its voice through this obscure website to state its own so called “side of the story” of my abduction by its armed agents one month after they were prevailed upon to release me from their illegal detention. The DIA’s use of this obscure online website to state their case – their own Special Purpose Vehicle, their own creation and lying machinery – is laughable. But whatever lies and puerile excuse that are being put forward now by the DIA as defence for their illegal action against my person are nothing but an afterthought on their over-zealousness in obeying an illegal and illegitimate order from their civilian masters in the highest corridors of power in Abuja. It’s all nothing but tales by moonlight told to burnish their already battered image following their unfortunate involvement in a politically motivated matter in their desperate bid to please their civilian overlords. Anyone familiar with the modus operandi of the DIA, knows it’s usually an admixture of subtle threat, naked threat and outright force.

Contrary to the lies by the DIA and its news website, there was nowhere an “emergency press conference” was organised by the Agency or any other body where I confessed to lying in the story published on Gbajabiamila and apologised to him. This so-called emergency press conference is a figment of the infantile imagination of the DIA and their sponsored website. This is part of the web of lies being woven by the DIA to justify the illegality of their action against me and to also discredit me.

They should be bold enough to tell Nigerians where such an “emergency press conference” took place and when. They should also mention the various media organisations that covered their imaginary press conference.

The N170,000 mentioned by the DIA-sponsored news website was picked from my WhatsApp conversation with my former colleague regarding his plan to purchase a used laptop from the Computer Village in Ikeja. How that has translated to an inducement for the Gbajabiamila story is what the DIA should explain. They should explain how they have threatened me to mention my former colleague, Rotimi Williams, as one of the sources for the Gbajabiamila story and how he had induced me with the N170,000.

Concerning the re-publishing of the Gbajabiamila story by other websites, there’s no way First News can stop other news websites from copying its stories and re-publishing them. I want to state that I don’t even know many of the publishers of the other websites that published the Gbajabiamila story.

Whatever statement the DIA has claimed I wrote was obtained from me under duress. The content of the statement was dictated by their Agents after they had ransacked my two phones for several days in search of the sources for stories published by First News. Before, they released me on March 28, I was even actually forced to apologise to Gbajabiamila, the Chief of Staff to the President, in the statement over the story on him, and compelled me to promise not to engage in “terrorism” anymore. Whatever that means.

I insist, my abduction and subsequent ordeal in the detention cell of the DIA is a typical case of corruption in high places viciously fighting back for being exposed; and unfortunately using even the nation’s military institution in their reprisals against a defenceless citizen.

As I said earlier, I was not interrogated until three days after my arrest and detention by the DIA in Abuja in an underground cell, bound with hand and leg cuffs, which were not loosened until the right part of my body was becoming numb. Up till now, I still feel the numbness on my right hand and leg. Interestingly, the DIA Investigators didn’t contest the veracity of the Gbajabiamila story then, but were mainly concerned about my “sources” for that particular story. They insisted I must disclose to them my sources at the Nigerian President’s office at Aso Rock Villa in Abuja for that particular story and even others First News had done on the happenings in the nation’s highest corridors of power. They told me they were sure I had “insiders” in the Nigerian Presidency who had been feeding First News with information. The DIA Investigators also accused me of terrorism. This accusation I don’t understand because I don’t know how this fits into the purview of their investigation of my published stories. I believe all they are now doing is just trying hard to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

However, as I said earlier, before I was questioned, the DIA Investigators had already ransacked my two phones earlier seized from me since March 15th when the armed men abducted me from my house in Lagos, in search of my sources for the Gbajabiamila story and others published by First News. It would interest you to know that those two cell phones seized from me on March 15th were not returned to me until that moment I was released by the DIA agents under an Abuja bridge after 14 harrowing days in their underground cell! Earlier, they had forced me to give them the passwords to my cell phones, which enabled them to have easy access to searching them throughout my two-week detention in the DIA cell. The two phones have since been malfunctioning! Shockingly, a few days after my release, the whole of my WhatsApp chats suddenly vanished without any indication of anyone hacking it! Gentlemen, it’s clear my two phones have been seriously compromised by the DIA. No one should underrate the capabilities of such a high-caliber security agency as the DIA to “do and undo.” The mysterious assassination of the late senior journalist and Editor, Mr Dele Giwa remains a classic example and a very sad reminder of our days under the jackboots of the military juntas, which the DIA and its civilian masters are now trying to re-enact.

My March 15th abduction remains a harrowing experience for me and my family. My wife and children have now become traumatized by this incident. It was more or less a commando operation against a defenceless and unarmed journalist. The show of force by the armed men numbering over 20 was not only frightening but also embarrassing to me because innocent residents of my neighbourhood were very scared seeing such a large number of armed men. Many of the people had to scamper to safety in order not to be caught up in any possible incident of accidental discharge from the guns of the heavily armed men deployed to abduct me. None of the armed men who came to abduct me gave any hint about where I was being taken. They had no time for such niceties. They were stern and fierce-looking. Up till now, I still have the numbness on my right hand and leg despite having received some medical treatment upon my release from detention.

Honestly speaking, my life is no longer safe! I said this earlier at a world press conference jointly addressed in Abuja by the International Press Institute (IPI), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) shortly after my release from detention by the DIA on March 28. My family too is not safe. This latest outburst of the DIA through their sponsored news website effectively confirmed my fears. Before I was released, some of the DIA operatives had warned me that I should know they have all my information and know where I could be picked up again if I should say anything unpalatable against the Agency after my freedom. Since the day of my arrest, my wife and children left our residence out of fear that the abductors may come back or anything untoward may happen to them. My wife has also stopped going to open her shop for business.

Gentlemen, our fears are genuine. After my abduction on March 15th, it was discovered that while trailing me and my wife, the DIA had used some individuals resident in my neighborhood, including commercial motorcycle riders, popularly called Okada riders, many of whom are notorious criminals, to track my movement. One of them, who confessed and claimed to have been threatened, coerced and probably induced by the DIA agents to do the dirty job, was even arrested, questioned and later released by the police in my area. Remember, I said earlier that the DIA agents had lodged in a hotel close to my wife’s shop from where they were monitoring the phone conversations between the two of us for some time. And remember, she was the first they arrested alongside our 16-month-old baby as well as a woman and her two children found in her shop at the time they came. The armed men threw all of them into their vehicle and forced them to lead them to our house, where I was eventually abducted. After the armed men abducted me, they “settled” the woman and her two children wrongfully arrested alongside my wife and baby with the sum of N1000 and asked her to immediately disappear from the scene with her two children.

In Abuja, during my interrogation, the DIA agents confirmed to me that they had been trailing me for weeks before March 15th when they eventually abducted me. They told me how they trailed me to my hometown in Ogun State, where I had gone for an ICT training programme organised by the Senator representing Ogun West, Senator Solomon Adeola Yayi, between March 6th and 8th, and how I left my hometown in a particular bus, the exact time I alighted in Abeokuta from the bus and took another vehicle heading towards Lagos. They warned me that they have their “tentacles” in every nook and cranny of the country and so can decide to “waste” me away if I mess up with them. So, since my release from detention, I too have avoided that house. I now live like a refugee. Currently, my family is dislocated, as we all now live in separate places for fear of being harmed by those who sent the armed men to abduct me on March 15th. Moreso, given the stern warnings given to me by the DIA Investigators before I was set free from detention, I no longer feel secure as a citizen of the Nigerian state. I now frequently look over my shoulders whenever I’m on the streets for fear of being abducted again by these armed men or their agents. Now, safety of my life is key. Of course, I’ve been advised by many of my colleagues, who fear for my safety, to immediately begin to consider my security as a top priority, if I cherish my life. My life is the most important to me and my family and I have to be alive to cater to their needs. But my precarious situation now caused by my abduction from my home on March 15th by the heavily armed DIA agents and the horrendous experience of my two-week detention in an underground military dungeon have seriously shaken my confidence in the Nigerian security system to guarantee the safety of my life. I have to be alive to serve my society as a journalist and also take care of my family. But just as I said earlier, my life is not safe anymore. I’ve become an endangered species due to my recent ordeal in the hands of the military as represented by the DIA and their civilian/political masters, who, it’s now very clear from my recent abduction experience, can order them to harm me, using even scarce state resources and machinery. My mind is no longer settled. I’m now being haunted by the fear of being abducted again and detained or even eliminated outright by these armed state agents.

I want to reiterate that the gangsteric manner the DIA released me to my friend, Yomi Odunuga and the Secretary General of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Dr Iyobosa Uwugiaren, has continued to instil more fears in my mind. I was released to them like kidnappers would release their victim to their family members who have brought them ransom in exchange for the victim. I was released to them not in the DIA office or facility. No! But under a bridge on a lonely road in Abuja. This is still unnerving to me! Each time I recall this particular incident, I’m gripped with chilling fears about these armed state agents coming back for me. According to them, they can “do and undo,” and can even “waste away” anyone, especially in their custody or under their watch.

As you’re all already aware, on the day I was abducted, these unidentified armed men stormed my residence in about three military vehicles and three power bikes and simply whisked me away. These armed men neither presented any warrant of arrest nor said a word to my family members about my offence and where I was being taken to. For more than 12 days, my whereabouts remained unknown until the International Press Institute (IPI) uncovered the fact on March 27th and courageously accused the DIA of holding me in an underground cell in their facility. Even after that, the military authorities vehemently denied having me in their custody until the NUJ, NGE, IPI and other media stakeholders insisted and compelled the Minister of Information and the National Security Adviser to intervene and prevail on the DIA to set me free.

Ashamed that their barefaced lies had exploded on their face, on March 28, the next day, the DIA quickly released me in a more or less gangsteric manner. Such is the Gestapo-like modus operandi of the DIA.

Gentlemen, I’m still struggling to recover from the trauma of my abduction and illegal detention in the DIA underground cell for those 14 hellish days.

Rather than belatedly and unabashedly telling Nigerians these barefaced lies as they have just done today, in saner climes, the DIA would by now be explaining to the higher authorities why they had to deploy such a large number of men and huge amount of scarce state resources to apprehend an unarmed and defenceless journalist. They should be telling Nigerians why they had to usurp the role and function of the civil police by meddling in a matter that is purely civil in nature. Somebody should by now be held accountable for the cost of deploying a military aircraft from Abuja to Lagos to fly back an abducted journalist to Abuja for the execution of the retaliatory personal agenda of a highly placed politician.

The scary experience of the DIA’s Gestapo-like operation against my person on March 15th will remain very fresh and continue to constitute a trauma for me and my family members.

However, the DIA should be honest enough to tell Nigerians the real reasons I was abducted by the Agency and who actually ordered my so-called arrest.

The violence against my person by these state agents, as represented by the DIA, which began with my Gestapo-like arrest, the physical intimidation and harassment as well as the mental torture I suffered during my 14 days illegal detention in the DIA underground cell in Abuja and my eventual gangsteric release by DIA agents under a bridge in Abuja should be a matter of deep concern to the authorities in our country, because this is a signal to a gradual return to the dark days of Military rule, even under our over two decades old democracy.

My ordeal is clearly a gross violation of my fundamental human rights and press freedom, which must not be tolerated under any guise in the current dispensation in Nigeria. My horrible experience in the hands of the DIA is a continuation of that trend of crass repression of dissenting voices such Agencies were used to perpetrate under military rule.

Therefore, I still want to urge the Federal Government, inspite of the barefaced lies just told by the DIA as its own “side of the story,” to order an independent probe of the circumstances that led to my abduction and subsequent horrendous ordeal in the hands of the DIA with a view to prosecuting the perpetrators of this illegal act.

It’s very important that the media in the country have the conducive atmosphere to carry out their constitutionally assigned duties as the Fourth Estate of the Realm without any fear of attack, intimidation or censorship by any individual, group or government agency.


Segun Olatunji
General Editor, First News newspaper