Five journalists: MsPricilla Ajeshola, Mr. Jacob Orji, Mr. Abayomi Adedoyin, MsPeggy Shande and Mr. David Gold Enemingin, who work with The Nigerian News Group, a citizen’s online publishing news portal, were on January 31, 2020 arrested and detained by men of the Nigeria Police in Abuja. They were later paraded by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command as pranksters and accused of attempting to cause panic in the nation’s capital by allegedly claiming that one of them had the Coronavirus.
Reacting to the journalists ordeal, their employers debunked police accusation saying they are not pranksters but journalists on legitimate duty.
In a statement signed by TheNigerian News Group Media Officer, Lawrence Audu, the group said: “We made every attempt to persuade the police who saw reasons for amicable resolution of this with the affected authorities.
Unfortunately, the Honourable Minister (of the Federal Capital Territory) refused to yield to every plea as his staff insisted on parading these patriotic citizens like common criminals.”
Describing the exercise as “repressive attack on the media,” he said it was ostensibly an attempt to suppress facts by the FCT administration.
The group further condemned the action saying: “The decision of those behind this humiliating episode to go this route of repression and maligning of the journalists is most unfortunate since TheNigerian News is not in the practice of undermining the country, our strict consideration of national interest is a cardinal principle for our organisation and staff all over the world. A visit to our websites and social media handle will all present this fact if these overzealous agents ever cared to check the facts before embarking on this shameless act against our staff.”
Saying the group, in its three years of existence has only promoted the image and reputation of Nigeria and never involved itself in spreading falsehood, it demand that the police immediately retract its stand on the arrested staff because they are journalists who were going about their duty to sensitise the general public about the Lassa fever epidemic across the country.