On September 16, 2019 Ms Mary Ekere, a reporter with The Post Newspaper, a local tabloid in Akwa Ibom State, was assaulted, arrested and detained by officials of the State Environmental and Waste Management Agency for taking pictures of the agency’s officials confiscating traders’ wares at Ibom Plaza in Uyo, the State capital.
She was physically assaulted and dragged into a waiting vehicle and driven to the agency’s office and later taken to court after which she was remanded in prison custody overnight.
She was released on September 18. Narrating her ordeal after her release, Mary said: “I was taken to Sanitation Court, off NkembaS treet,
“Unfortunately, the Magistrate was not around and I was remanded in prison custody.”
On September 17, she was again taken to court by the prison guards in their vehicle where she pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges leveled against her and she was granted bail in the sum of N10,000.
The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) condemned Mary’s arrest, detention and arraignment. In a statement issued on September 16 signed by Inimfon Silas, State NUJ Chapter Chairman and Anthony Udoh, his Secretary, the union threatened to institute legal action and demanded her release. The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) also condemned actions of the state officials.
In a statement signed by Uduak Ekong and Esther Effiong,, NAWOJ State Chairperson and the Secretary respectively, the association said: “We will work with our parent body (NUJ) to ensure that we follow up with legal actions to stop any further harassment and intimidation of our members by any government or private agency. Enough is Enough.”