Journalist Arrested, Charged with Cyberstalking, Remanded in Custody

Mr. Saint Onitsha, founder NAIJA Live TV

On October 10, 2023, a journalist, Mr. Saint Mienpamo, who is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NAIJA Live TV, an online broadcast news service based in Onitsha, Anambra State, was arrested by police officers in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, at the residence of his friend, Mr. Charles Kuboro James, whom he was visiting at the time. He was briefly held at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Yenagoa before being transferred to the police headquarters in Abuja.

Charles disclosed that the police officers stormed his house and forced him at gunpoint to phone and summon Saint. When he arrived, they forced both men into their vehicles at gunpoint and drove towards the police station. Charles said the police officers accused him of involvement in a criminal conspiracy with Siant but dropped him midway to their station.

On October 17, 2023, he was arraigned before an Abuja High Court charged with cyberstalking under the Cybercrimes Act, as well as defamation and publication of defamatory material under the Criminal Code Act. These charges were based on reports he published on September 8 and 9, 2023, regarding an incident where security guards allegedly killed a man outside the offices of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) in Abuja. He was remanded in a correctional facility

The reports published on NAIJA Live TV and shared by the journalist on his Facebook account, alleged that there was unrest in the Niger Delta due to the reported killing of Pere Ebidouwei who had gone to Abuja to submit his documents to the PAP after the government delisted some amnesty programme beneficiaries who receive a monthly stipend in exchange for laying down their arms.

On November 2, 2023, at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Saint was slammed with a three-count charge of willful libel, threats, causing danger, and insult against the PAP interim administrator in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CR/492/23. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

His lawyer, Terungwa Ananbe, informed the court that a bail application had been submitted on behalf of Saint. However, the presiding Judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, noted that the application was not on record and therefore could not be considered without proper documentation and ordered that the journalist be remanded in Kuje Correctional Facility until December 4, when the trial proceedings would commence.

In 2020, Nigerian authorities had also charged Saint with cybercrimes for his reporting on COVID-19 which was later withdrawn at the request of the complainant.