Lagos, Monday, April 8, 2013: Two reporters with the Abuja-based daily ‘Leadership’ newspaper, Mr. Tony Amokeodo and Mr. Chibuzor Ukaibe, were today detained without charge at the ‘D’ Department (FCID) of the Nigeria Police in Abuja.
The Group Managing Director of Leadership Newspapers Group, Mr. Azubuike Ishiekwene, confirmed the detention of the reporters to Media Rights Agenda, in a telephone interview this afternoon.
The journalists were invited by the Police over stories published by Leadership newspaper in its April 3 and 4, 2013 editions. The journalists reported to the Police at about 9.30 this morning and were subsequently detained.
Mr. Ishiekwene issued a statement on April 7, 2013, announcing that the Police had send a letter inviting the reporters to report to the Police this morning.
He said in the statement that the police besieged the offices of Leadership Newspapers Group following the publication on April 3, 2013 by Leadership newspaper of a story titled “Outrage Trail Presidential Directive on Tinubu, APC” and a full copy of the presidential directive on April 4, 2013 captioned “Bromide of the Presidential Directive.”
Mr. Ishiekwene added that the publications provoked “a raft of police visitations on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” which was then followed by the invitation of 7 April.
In the invitation letter, with reference number CR:3000/X/FHQ/ABJ/VOL. 49/34 and titled “Investigation Activities: Police Invitation”, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the ‘D’ Department of the Nigeria Police told the Chairman of Leadership newspapers that the attention of three reporters, namely Mr. Tony Amokeodo, Mr. Chibuzor Ukaibe and Ms Taiwo Ogunmola-Omilani, was required to “interview the Deputy Inspector General of Police ‘D’ department (FCID) on Monday, 08th April, 2013 at 1000hrs.”
The invitation letter was signed by Mr. Danmallam Mohammed, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Administration) on behalf of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police.
The Deputy Inspector-General of Police told the Chairman of Leadership newspapers in the letter that it is his “civic and corporate responsibility to assist the police investigation by honouring its invitation in the interest of justice and due process.”
In a telephone conversation at about 1.00pm today, Mr. Ishiekwene told MRA’s Programme Manager, Mr. Ayode Longe, that both Mr. Amokeodo and Mr. Ukaibe honored the invitation by reporting to the police as request at 9.30am and that they were accompanied by Mr. Ishiekwene and the newspaper’s legal adviser.
He said the third reporter, Ms Ogunmola-Omilani, could not honour the police invitation because she is based in Lagos.
Mr. Ishiekwene said both reporters were asked to write statements, after which they were both detained. He added that the police requested the reporters to produce the document from which the newspaper published their stories before they can be released.
Mr. Ishiekwene told MRA that the management of the newspaper has asked the Police to go to Court if they have any case against the newspaper, saying that the Police do not have the authority to ask a journalist to produce documents. He insisted that it is the courts that have the power to ask people to produce documents, adding that it is against the code of ethics of the journalism profession for a journalist to disclose his or her sources of information.
Mr. Ishiekwene said he saw the Police request for the documents as a first step to requesting for the source of the document.
He said he was convinced that the Police was acting on the instructions of the Presidency in the actions they had so far taken.