Press Freedom Coalition Condemns Unlawful Arrest and Detention of Daily Times Reporter, Gabriel Idibia

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The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned as unlawful the arrest and detention of Mr. Gabriel Idibia, a Kaduna state correspondent for the Daily Times newspaper, by the Nigeria Police.

Mr. Idibia was arrested on June 11, 2024, by officers from the Kaduna State Command while taking pictures of a large herd of cattle shepherded by police on Kachia Expressway. Despite identifying himself as a journalist, Mr. Idibia was forcibly taken to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) station in Gabasawa, where he suffered severe physical assault, reportedly causing injury to his eyes, necessitating medical treatment.

According to Mr. Idibia, police officers confiscated his phone and identity card and detained him from morning until late evening, during which he was pressured to write a statement without legal representation.

The spokesperson for the Kaduna State Police Command, ASP Mansir Hassan, acknowledged Mr. Idibia’s arrest and subsequent release on self-recognition but denied observing any signs of assault.

The CWPPF has expressed grave concern over this incident, viewing it as a blatant violation of press freedom and Mr. Idibia’s fundamental human rights. The coalition called for a thorough investigation by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun. They demand that all officers involved in the unlawful arrest and assault be held accountable.

They said: “We find it rather disturbing that men of the Nigeria Police Force not only arrested Mr. Idibia unlawfully but also resorted to assaulting him for simply performing his constitutionally guaranteed duties as a journalist. This is certainly not a practice welcomed in a democratic state like Nigeria and it stands condemned in strong terms.

“The attack on Mr. Idibia is a violation of his fundamental human rights. It also constitutes an outright infringement on press freedom and the public’s rights to information and expression.”

The CWPPF emphasized that journalists play a critical role in a functioning democracy and must be safeguarded against such abuses by security forces.

The CWPPF is a group of media and civil society organisations committed to upholding democracy and good governance by protecting the ethos of whistleblowing, freedom of expression and press freedom.