MRA Calls on Government to Investigate Attempted Abduction of Journalist and Ensure His Safety

Ayode Longe
Programme Director, MRA

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) on April 4, 2022, called on the Federal Government and its relevant law enforcement and security agencies to investigate the attempted abduction of the Abuja Correspondent of The Guardian newspaper, Mr. Oludare Richards, on his way home, saying the Government should ensure that nothing untoward happens to him.

Mr. Richards is reported to have gone into hiding following an encounter with unknown men whom he suspects to be security agents whom he allegedly attempted to abduct him.

According to the journalist, while he was returning to his house in Abuja, a black Hyundai bus drove towards him obviously trying to cut him off and that two men jumped down from the vehicle and chased after him as he ran.

He said he was able to escape with the help of a body spray with which he was able to prevent them from catching him. As a result of his fear that the would-be abductors might be security agents, he did not report the incident at the police station and has also gone into hiding rather than return home.

In a statement issued in Lagos, Mr. Ayode Longe, MRA’s Programme Director, called on the Federal Government as well as the relevant law enforcement and security agencies to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and to ensure that no harm befalls Mr. Richards.

He deprecated the frequent practice by law enforcement, security and intelligence agents of abducting journalists, human rights activists and other citizens on the streets or in their homes without following proper and lawful arrest procedures, saying this has made it difficult for citizens to distinguish between criminals, including kidnappers, attacking them and law enforcement officials seeking to arrest them.

Mr. Longe called on the Federal Government to put an end to such practice by providing law enforcement officials with appropriate training about lawful arrest procedures and taking drastic action against those conduct unlawful or improper arrests.

He said: “The lawless and sometimes criminal behavior of many law enforcement agents makes it difficult for law-abiding citizens, including journalists, to know whether falling into their hands is any less dangerous than falling into the hands of plain criminals. This has made the terrain for journalism practice doubly treacherous for journalists in an environment of widespread insecurity where they are frequently under attack from criminals, supposed members of law enforcement agencies and other government officials, with all of them behaving the same way and employing the same tactics.”

Saying that MRA was extremely concerned about Mr. Richards safety and wellbeing, Mr. Longe reminded the Nigerian authorities that they have a constitutional responsibility and an international treaty obligation to ensure his safety. He called on the Government to live up to its responsibility.