Correspondent Detained, Released but Laptop Siezed


On June 6, 2013 at about 9PM local time, Mr. Emmanuel Unah, a reporter for the Cross River Watch, an online news platform, was arrested by security operatives from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters,  in Calabar, Cross River State Capital.

The arrest was over a story captioned: “Cross River Deputy Governor Commands Wife to Kneel down and Apologize to His Aide,” published by Cross River Watch on May 31, 2013.The story went viral online to the embarrassment of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham, who ordered the arrest of the author.  However, Mr. Unah is not the author of the story.

Mr. Unah was arrested from his home in the presence of his children who were reportedly visibly traumatized. Eye witnesses’ reports said “fully armed operatives from Diamond Hill of the CID stormed Mr. Unah’s residence in the dead of the night demanding that he follow them to their office.”

Mr. Unah was arrested based on the fact that he is an employee of the online platform. A police source was reported to have revealed that another journalist informed them that Mr. Unah was one of the reporters of Cross River Watch and the CID officials arrested him in order to force him to reveal who actually wrote the story and possibly lead them to him/her.

Mr. Roland Edet, a friend of the arrested journalist visited him at the CID Headquarters and said “Up till this morning [June 7, 2013], the police had no tangible reason for arresting Emmanuel other than asking him about his relationship with Cross River Watch. I would want to think that if a registered media organization publishes what you don’t agree with, you go to court.”

When Media Rights Agenda spoke with Mr. Unah after his release, he said when he was arrested, the policemen also took his laptop and that he was detained overnight in a cell, forced to disclose his password with which they accessed his emails.  He said he was asked about his relationship with Cross River Watch and that his laptop was not released to him when he was released on June 7 at about 5PM. He was ordered to report back to the station on 10 June 2013.