Media Rights Agenda (MRA) announced Monday that its office in Lagos was burgled and ransacked over the weekend by a group of unidentified intruders who made away with nine laptop computers and other valuable equipment worth millions of naira.
In a statement issued in Lagos, the Head of MRA’s Legal Department, Ms. Obioma Okonkwo, described the incident as a shocking and frightening attack on the organization, saying it was still trying to determine whether the action was simply a robbery incident or a more sinister effort to cripple MRA’s operations or access its records and information since only laptop computers and other digital tools and equipment were taken away.
Ms. Okonkwo explained that the incident took place sometime between the evening of Saturday, January 21 and the following morning, adding that the intruders apparently gained access into the office, which is a detached two-storey building (duplex) surrounded by a high perimeter brick fence, by climbing over a side fence into the compound , then cutting through the ceiling and smashing roofing material to enter one of the offices on the upper floor.
According to her, the “robbers” obviously could not breach the main door to the building on the ground floor, which is a reinforced security door, or any of the windows in the building, all of which are fitted with protectors made of iron rods, which was why they had to enter through the roof and ceiling.
Saying that the intruders took away nine laptop computers, external hard drives used by MRA to back up documents on its computers, Internet modems and routers, some documents and petty cash, Ms Okonkwo noted that the manner in which they gained access to the building and left could have constrained them in what they were able to remove from the office but that the organization was not ruling out the possibility that they were not burglars and that their primary objective was MRA’s information and communication devices as there were many other valuable assets in the office that were not stolen.
She said the intrusion and robbery had been reported to the Nigerian Police at the Ojodu Police Station in Lagos and incidented at the station, upon which the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) who heads the station has led a team of investigators to the crime scene to gather evidence on the incident.
Ms. Okonkwo stressed that “Although it is not clear why our office was raided and what the motivation might have been, we are obviously concerned about the fact that such a large number of laptop computers as well as hard drives and other communication devices were taken while other valuable assets were left untouched. Whatever the motive behind this attack on us, we will not relent in our work of promoting and defending media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information in Nigeria and elsewhere.”