Lagos, Tuesday, April 16, 2013: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today condemned the re-arrest on April 15 of Mr. Tony Amokeodo and Mr. Chibuzo Ukaibe of Leadership newspaper, describing the action as systematic and unwarranted harassment.
MRA called for the immediate and unconditional release of the journalists, saying it had issued a global alert on the matter through the mechanism of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) to call international attention to the situation of the journalists whom it said were simply being harassed for exposing the government’s political machinations.
Mr. Amokeodo, the Group News Editor of Leadership newspaper and Mr. Ukaibe, a Political Reporter, were re-arrested when they reported at the police station in compliance with Police bail condition that they report daily at the police station. The duo were first detained and held for nearly two days on April 8, after they honoured a police invitation.
They are currently being detained at the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad detention facility in Abuja and their mobile phones have been confiscated.
Reports say the journalists are being held incommunicado by the police for refusing to disclose the source of the stories published by their newspaper about two weeks ago.
MRA’s Deputy Executive Director, Ms Jennifer Onyejekwe, described the action of the Police as “sheer abuse of power”
She said: “The police know that they have no power to hold the journalists for more than 24 hours without a court order. They have therefore resorted to undermining the Constitution by detaining them, releasing them and again detaining them. This is sheer abuse of power and we are calling on the global freedom of expression community to condemn this high-handedness on the part of the Nigerian Government and its law enforcement agencies.”
Ms Onyejekwe observed that it was clear from the circumstance that the Police had no evidence of wrongdoing against the journalists and had resorted to a strategy of harassment and intimidation to wear the journalists down and prevent them from carrying out their professional duties.
She reiterated MRA’s call on the Police to charge the journalists to court if they have any case against the journalists or allow them to carry out their professional duties without harassment and intimidation.
Ms Onyejekwe reminded the Police that media have the constitutional duty to hold government accountable to the people and warned the police not to allow themselves to be used to encumber them in carrying out that duty.
For further information, please contact
Media Rights Agenda