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Nigerian media mogul slaps suit on secret police

Dokpesi was questioned after bombings

Johannesburg– A Nigerian media mogul has sued his country’s secret police after being hauled in for questioning in the wake of a terror sweep that followed twin bombings last month.

Raymond Dokpesi, chairman of Daar Communications, is seeking 100 million naira ($660,000) in damages from the country’s State Security Service, claiming his arrest following the Oct. 1 bombings in the capital, Abuja, was malicious.

Dokpesi was one of nine men rounded up for questioning after two blasts erupted at a celebration marking the country’s 50th anniversary of independence. At least 12 people were killed in the explosions.

According to Nigerian media, Dokpesi’s name was mentioned in text messages sent from the phone of one of the prime suspects. He was released from custody last week but is still being investigated in connection with the SSS’s probe on terrorist activities in the country.

Dokpesi’s supporters accused the government of orchestrating a witch hunt against him.

Earlier this year, Dokpesi was named campaign director for former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, who plans to run in next year’s presidential election. The government has played down rumors that Dokpesi’s detainment was politically motivated.

Daar Communications is one of Nigeria’s most powerful media groups, with the country’s first independent radio station and its largest private network, African Intl. Television (AIT), among its holdings.

AIT has tried to distance itself from the political dust-up in the wake of Dokpesi’s arrest, telling local media it had had no contact with Dokpesi since he took over Babangida’s campaign.

The channel has a history of confrontation with the country’s security forces.

In 2006, a popular TV presenter was arrested and charged with sedition after hosting a show critical of then-president Olusegun Obasanjo. A month before, security agents raided the station and confiscated the master tapes of a controversial documentary.

Last year, a suspicious fire gutted the AIT studio and temporarily forced it off the air.

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