The Nation newspaper has requested the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to clarify its invitation to its Judicial Correspondent in Abuja, Mr. Eric Ikhilae.

The police, in an invitation letter, dated August 31, signed by Sani Omolori Aliyu, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), claimed to be investigating a case of defamation of character, in which it said Ikhilae’s name “featured prominently”.

The letter was silent on the complainant (the person whose character was purportedly defamed, the nature of the alleged defamation, the report/story/article in which the alleged defamatory items/statements are contained.

Upon receipt of the letter, The Nation, through one of its lawyers, Daniel Makolo, wrote the police on September 3, requesting clarification on the investigation.

The police received the letter on the same September 3, but are yet to provide the requested information.

Despite this failure on the part of the police, The Nation newspaper has agreed to allow Mr. Ikhilae to honour the invitation on Tuesday.

The letter by DCP Aliyu of the Department of Finance and Administration reads: “This office is investigating a case of defamation of character in which the above name (Eric Ikhilae) featured prominently.

“You are, therefore, requested to release the above-named staff member to interview the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 7 Police Headquarters, Wuse Zone 3, Abuja, through the Officer-in-Charge, Zonal Intelligence Bureau (ZIB), Zone 7 Police Headquarters, Abuja, on September 3, 2021 at 10 a.m.

“On arrival, he should contact GSM number 08065108044. Accept the respect of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 7 Headquarters, Abuja, please.”

The Nation’s letter reads: “Our client received your letter, dated 31/08/2021 with reference number CR: 3000/ZN.7/ZIB/VOL.9/…titled: ‘INVESTIGATION ACTIVITIES, INVITATION LETTER: RE: ERIC IKHILAE’ on September 1, 2021. He forwarded your said letter to our law firm on September 2, 2021, wherein he instructed us to request from your good offices that:

  • “Having perused the letter, our client observed that there is the need for your good offices to kindly assist his office, by making available further information to enable them to appreciate the case in respect of which the said investigation is being conducted that requires the release of the said staff member. This will help them to know what to bring along while honouring your invitation, sir.
  • “As a newspaper organisation, they are in the business of news publication and would not know which particular news publication is the subject matter of the said investigation.
  • “We, therefore, appeal to be availed with further information to enable our client to respond accordingly, sir.
  • “Our client is equally using this opportunity to request your good offices, as ‘our friend’ in the service of our nation, Nigeria, to be allowed to release the staff member to honour your invitation on September 14, 2021 as the said staff member you are requesting for is currently on an assignment.

“Accept our esteemed regards, sir.”