Law & Human Rights

August 2, 2018

Journalist, Abiri in court after 2 years detention in DSS cell

Jones Abiri

Jones Abiri

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Sequel to mounting public outcry, the Federal Government, on Thursday, bowed to pressure and produced detained journalist, Mr. Jones Abiri before an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court.

Jones Abiri: government says he was not arrested for journalism

Jones Abiri: government says he was not arrested for journalism

Abiri who is the publisher of Weekly Source Magazine, had been in custody of the Department of State Service, DSS, for the past two years without trial, a development that sparked public outrage, with many activists groups demanding his immediate release, dead or alive.

A renewed campaign in the social media forced the security agency to dock Abiri before the Magistrate Court on a one-count charge of criminal intimidation.

He was charged alongside a Special Adviser to the Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Collins Trueman Opumei.

Meanwhile, Magistrate Chukwuemeka Nweke ordered that the duo should be transferred to Keffi Prison in Nasarawa State pending ruling on an application seeking the variation of bail terms the court handed to the accused persons when they were first arraigned on July 28, 2016.

Counsel to the detained journalist, Mr. Bala Dakum had pleaded the court to grant his client bail on self recognition.

Magistrate Nweke fixed August 8 to consider the request.

Abiri was arrested on July 21, 2016 at his office in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, following allegation that he was a key militant terrorising locals and expatriates in the restive oil-rich region.

The embattled journalist however refuted the allegation, even as he denied knowing his co-accused, Mr Opume, with whom the DSS insisted the alleged militancy activities, including threats to shakedown multinational oil companies for up to N500 million, were perpetrated.