Public outcry yesterday trailed Monday’s detention of the Group News Editor of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Mr. Tony Amoekedo and Political Reporter, Chibuzo Ukaibe by the Police Force headquarters.
Although the duo who along with the company’s human capital director Mrs. Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe and managing editor, Chuks Ohuegbe, went to the force headquarter on an invitation of DIG Peter Gana in charge of investigations, were released yesterday, prominent Nigerians, political parties, local and international organisations yesterday said their detention was unwarranted.
The Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigerian (NPAN) described the detention of the four journalists as an assault on press freedom and recourse to military mentality of intimidation, harassment and arrest of journalists.
The association in a statement signed by its secretary-general, Ms Comfort Obi, said “similar intrusion now, or in the future, will not be tolerated.”
The statement read in parts: “The Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigerian (NPAN), learnt with utmost concern, the arrest and detention on Monday, April 8, 2013, of four journalists from the stable of LEADERSHIP Newspapers.
“They were arrested and detained at the Force Headquarters, Abuja , where they had reported in the morning, following an invitation by the police, after being asked to write their statements .
“At the time of issuing this statement, two of the journalists are being held incommunicado, while the two released were asked to report at the Police Headquarters on a daily basis
“We are concerned and worried because we had thought that by now, the Police and other similar organs of state would have weaned themselves of the carry-over of military mentality of
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) described the arrest and detention of two of the four senior journalists as a deliberate clampdown on the media house, declaring it as “unconstitutional and a clear sign that those who are supposed to keep the law are the ones violating them.”
NEF spokesman and former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. AngoAbdullahi who expressed the elders’ disappointment with the detention of the journalists, said, “The arrest and subsequent detention of the journalists is a signal that we are eventually becoming a police state in Nigeria, where the rule of law does not even apply.
The Northern Alternative Forum (NAF) implored the Inspector-General of Police to apply caution in dealing with the matter involving the detention of the journalists.
In a statement signed by its national chairman, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, NAF asked the president to beware of opposition elements within government circle who pretend to be working for the good of the current administration, but secretly go behind to betray the same government they claim to be working for.
According to Ibrahim, there are better ways of getting into the heart of the matter than clamping down on journalists of the media outfit as they too might have reported the presidential directive based on information available to them.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in a statement said the arrest of the four journalists by the police for no reason other than for carrying out their constitutionally-assigned role was unacceptable.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the arrest, over a story the government had refuted, was the worst attack against press freedom under the Jonathan administration, and “a sign of the seemingly-inevitable descent into dictatorship by an increasingly-desperate presidency.”