CNN offices in Nigeria harassed by men in plainclothes

Armed men in plainclothes raided the offices of CNN in the commercial capital of Lagos on January 16, 2012, amid nationwide protests over hikes in fuel prices, according to local journalists and news reports.

The men, who local journalists believed to be from the State Security Service, bypassed security in the CNN offices and damaged the entrance door, according to one journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity. The agents stopped a live news broadcast and asked the staff questions about expatriate quotas and what permission the outlet had to operate, news reports said. The men stayed for about 20 minutes and left a phone number with instructions for the staff to contact the authorities, the reports said.

In a posting on Twitter, CNN confirmed the reports and requested an explanation from Nigerian authorities, according to news reports. CNN had covered the fuel subsidy protests and used footage from citizen journalists and stringers across Nigeria, according to news reports.

News reports citing a BBC correspondent in Lagos said the agents also went to the BBC offices, located in the same building as the CNN offices, and asked for the contact information of a staff member. But Karen Rosine, public relations manager for the BBC News, denied that operatives from the State Security Service had entered the offices, local daily Punch reported.

Marilyn Ogar, a spokesperson for the State Security Service, denied reports that security operatives visited the media outlets, according to news reports.