Nigerian government allegedly freezes Sahara Reporters bank account
The Nigerian government has been accused of allegedly freezing the bank accounts of Sahara Reporters, a news website owned by rearrested #RevolutionNow convener Omoyele Sowore.
Asides allegedly freezing the bank account without an advance notice in October and significantly hindering their operations, it was further alleged that the website was separately disabled twice due to allegations of copyright infringement, and its staff reported cyberattacks and increased surveillance outside their Lagos office.
In a statement released by the Committee to Protect Journalists on Wednesday December 11, the group confirmed that Sahara Reporters’ Nigeria-based account with Guaranty Trust Bank was frozen without warning in October.
La Keisha Landrum Pierre, Sahara Reporters’ chief operating officer told CPJ that the news platform struggled to pay operating costs and salaries and was unable to publish for a day on November 10.
Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator said;
“Sahara Reporters must be permitted to keep the Nigerian public informed without intimidation.
“Surveillance, cyberattacks, and copyright notices against Sahara Reporters mark a concerning pattern of interference and harassment of an investigative news outlet.”
It was further gathered that when Ijeoma Nwachukwu, a relationship manager with Guaranty Trust Bank was contacted, she declined to reveal details about specific accounts because of “duty of confidentiality.”
The CPJ who insisted that they are yet to find a connection between the reason for Sowore’s arrest and his journalism, added that some Nigerian journalists are worried that President Buhari would feel less restrained in curbing press freedom following his reelection.