LAGOS: Wednesday, September 24, 2014: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today called on the State Security Service (SSS) and the Niger State government to immediately charge Tega Oghenedoro, the journalist arrested for allegedly demanding N50 Million bribe, to a court of competent jurisdiction, if they have actionable evidence against him
In a statement in Lagos, the organization contended that Oghenedoro’s detention without charge is illegal and constitutes a violation of his fundamental rights. It called on the SSS and the State government to release him forthwith if they have no evidence to charge him to court.
MRA’s Deputy Executive Director, Ms Jennifer Onyejekwe, deplored the action of the SSS in parading him before the media, thereby subjecting him to media trial, instead of taking him before a court of law.
She noted that any person accused of any offence is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction and wondered why the security agency and the State government opted to parade him before the media instead of charging him to court following their claim of having mounted an elaborate sting operation to ensnare him which should have given them sufficient evidence with which to try him, if their claims are true.
Oghenedoro, a staff of the Nigerian Television Authority in Asaba Delta state, allegedly using the pen-name of “Fejiro Oliver” was initially declared missing on September 19, 2014 but paraded by the SSS before the media in Minna on September 22 on an allegation that he demanded a bribe of N50 million to suppress a story about Governor Muazu Aliyu of Niger State.
Governor Aliyu’s spokesperson, Israel Ebije accused Oghenedoro of “using mushroom online platforms to blackmail innocent Nigerians”, adding: that after it became clear that the journalist was out to blackmail officials of the state government, he (Ebije) issued a statement warning him to refrain from his actions or be exposed.
According to Ebije, “I even put out a caveat to him through his so-called secret reporters warning him of the consequences of his actions, but because he is greedy he still insisted.”
Ebije also release transcript of alleged text messages exchanged between Oghenedoro and the Secretary to the State Government before his departure from Asaba and upon arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja after which he was arrested by the SSS.
Oghenedoro remains in detention without trial five days after his arrest.