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ARREST OF JOURNALIST: An Embarrassment To The Nation, Affront To FG – Luqman Soliu (RIFA President)

ARREST OF JOURNALIST: AN EMBARRASSMENT TO THE NATION, AFFRONT TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT (FG)

On Tuesday August 14, 2018 it was learnt that The Nigerian Police through the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) invited Premium Times editor-in-chief; Mr Musikilu Mojeed, the newspaper education correspondent; Ms Azeezat Adedigba and the security correspondent; Mr Ogundipe Samuel over a purported fraud allegation.

However, information from the Force was said to have revealed that police actually invited and detained the three journalists because of the alleged critical reportage of the Inspector-General of Police activities. Nonetheless, two of the journalists were reported to have been released leaving only the security reporter in Police custody.

In the meantime, Nigeria 1999 Constitution provides in Section 4 that “(1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice. (2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that: (a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority; (b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and (c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. 17. (1) The State social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality and Justice. (2) In furtherance of the social order- (a) every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law; (b) the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced; and 22.

The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people”.

With the Constitutional provisions above, it is crystal clear that citizens are not supposed to be incarcerated unnecessarily in a democratic setting which was built on freedom of citizens. It should be noted that some professions are naturally endowed with confidentiality of their information. Media, researchers, security outfits and auditors or investigators who engage in fact finding, are by ethics, required to always protect the source of any information brought to their attention in the course of their study. Therefore, RIFA is perturbed that police could be intimidating fellow citizens on their professional callings.

Will it be right for police to be disclosing their source of intelligence report in the open?
Senator Saraki has been invited on several occasions by the Nigerian Police which he has failed to honour the Force yet he is a free-man. The journalist arrested dutifully honoured the law of the land by going to the Police as against what Dr Saraki and co did to Nigeria Police when they ignored it. Yesterday, some people are at the helm of affairs and tomorrow another set of people would be there.

Incarcerating helpless Nigerians would mock our nation as a banana republic which fails to follow the authority in the land. Regrettably, the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo gave an order on FSARS human right abuse and same day the allegation repeated itself at the Police headquarter.

Is this not a mockery of the Presidency and a signal of worse human rights abuse afterwards? RIFA calls on the Inspector-General of Police to order the release of the detained journalist without further delay as it does the nation no good if Police and the media entered a collision course.

Luqman Soliu
President,
Rights and Freedom Advocates (RIFA)

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