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SARS detains Premium Times reporter over story

IPC outraged over detention
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BUJA—THE Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Police, Tuesday, arrested and detained a reporter with Premium Times, Mr. Samuel Ogundipe, who was forced to disclose his source.

Recall that the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed, and its education correspondent, Azeezat Adedigba, were also briefly detained and manhandled by SARS operatives at the Police headquarters in Abuja.

Ogundipe, the Security Sector Reporter for Premium Times, also arrested alongside Mojeed and Adedigba, was however, detained.

This came as the International Press Centre, IPC, has expressed outrage over the detention of the journalist.

Reacting to the detention of the reporter, Publisher of Premium Times,  Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi said: “Premium Times hereby calls for the immediate release of its reporter, Samuel Ogundipe, who was detained yesterday by the Nigeria Police over a report.

“On the day the Nigerian presidency was complaining about the excesses of a unit in the police, the same unit was forcing a Premium Times journalist to disclose his source.

“The Nigerian police, through the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, on Tuesday (yesterday) arrested and detained the reporter.

“Apart from Mr. Ogundipe, this newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed, and its education correspondent, Azeezat Adedigba, were also briefly detained and manhandled by the police at the SARS headquarters in Abuja.

“Ms. Adedigba was later released after about three hours of detention.

“Mr. Mojeed and Mr Ogundipe were driven from the SARS headquarters in Abuja to the IGP Monitoring Unit at Force Headquarters where Mr. Ogundipe was made to write a statement.

“At the Force headquarters, a Deputy Commissioner of Police at the IGP Monitoring Unit, Sani Ahmadu, was heard directing lawyers to “rush to court” to obtain a warrant to detain Mr. Ogundipe.

“They repeatedly asked the journalist to disclose his source for a story published by this newspaper.

“The story, also published by other media, revealed a letter written by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on last week’s siege to the National Assembly by security officials.

“When Mr. Mojeed alerted the DCP that it was wrong compelling a journalist to disclose a source of information, the police officer became furious, threatening the journalist.

“He said the police was acting within the law and that Samuel would remain detained unless he discloses those who gave him the document.

“The police are yet to offer a coherent reason for their denial of the reporter his freedom.

“His detention is in gross violation of Mr. Ogundipe’s rights, the Nigerian laws and all democratic tenets; and is an unacceptable abridgement of his citizenship and professional privileges.”

IPC outraged over detention

Meanwhile, the International Press Centre, IPC, has expressed outrage by the detention of the Premium Times Security Sector Reporter, Mr. Ogundipe.

While Mr. Mojeed and Ms. Adedigba were released after being arrested, detained and harassed, Mr. Ogundipe was still being held as at the time of going to press.

In a statement by Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said: “IPC is particularly dismayed that the Police authorities want Mr. Ogundipe to disclose the source of information over a story published by the newspaper on a correspondence between the Inspector General of Police and the Vice President.

“This, to us, is a clear assault on press freedom and a clear threat to the safety of the detained journalist and his colleagues.”

“The Police Authorities are also hereby reminded that the Freedom of Information Act,  a federal law, enacted in 2011, in Section 16 subsection C confers on journalists the media ‘Journalism Confidentiality Privileges’ and as such should desist from engaging I’m unconstitutional acts.

“We condemn the arrests and detention of the concerned journalists and hereby demand the immediate release of Mr. Ogundipe.”

“It should be embarrassing to the Nigeria Police to so brazenly clamp down on a law-abiding citizen and journalist with an apparent sinister view to inhibiting the practice of his profession in line with its ethics and within the latitude guaranteed by the laws of Nigeria and international conventions.

“The subterfuge employed in bringing in the reporter, even while harassing his colleagues should also be condemned by all Nigerians.

“This heavy-handed treatment of a journalist against whom no case of violation of the law has been made is an embarrassment to Nigeria and advertises the country as disdainful of its own laws and democratic practice.

“We wonder what the Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, finds attractive in making Nigeria a laughing stock at a time the eyes of the civilised world are on the country as it approaches a milestone in the development of its democracy.

“We, therefore, call on Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to direct the Police to release Mr. Ogundipe immediately and unconditionally.

 


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