By Emem Idio
Mr. Jones Abiri, a journalist and publisher of Weekly Source Newspaper, who was detained by Department of State Service, DSS, for more two years and only released last week after he was granted bail by an Abuja Magistrate Court, Tuesday, narrated his experiences in detention.
Abiri, who was received at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State chapter, by hundreds of family members including his wife, children, community representatives, friends and media colleagues, when he arrived the press centre from Abuja en route Port Harcourt International Airport, said: “I thank the Almighty God for giving me the grace to overcome all challenges in the course of my two years in detention in the custody of the DSS. Precisely, I was arrested on July 21, 2016 from my office, about 3.23p.m., by 12 armed men who breezed into my office.
“They came with a charge warrant document that my office was under investigation. Actually when I perused the charge warrant, I saw that one Magistrate Luckier was the one who appended his signature. I allowed them. I told them that I am a newspaper publisher that I didn’t know why they were in my office.
“They started searching my office, at the end of the day, they did not see anything and that was how they handcuffed me, took my phones and laptops and things that are not connected to my arrest, including my bank information and pay slips before they whisked me away to the state command. There, I wrote my statement and after spending seven days in Yenagoa, they took me to Abuja. My eyes were blind folded and that was the situation I was and thank God that I am alive today.
“Since then, I have not been given the chance and opportunity to see my wife, my children and other family members and friends and even my lawyers were denied access to me.
“I was in the underground cell, these are public information and there is nothing new about it. When the light went off, you don’t see the next person, it was only when the light comes on that you know what is happening. I was also denied medicals. But I thank God that the CLO and other media organisations and civil rights groups took up the matter and today I am out of DSS captivity.”
“I was charged on a one count charge at the Magistrate Court Zone 2 Wuse, Abuja that I sent threat messages to Agip and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, demanding for money, but I said I don’t know anything about the allegation and had no connection with oil companies. The matter is in court and by next week Monday at Federal High Court, Abuja I will be in court on September 5.
“They were thinking that I will jump bail immediately they released me but I am ready and so resilient to face my trial at any time even if they call me now that my matter had been rescheduled tomorrow, I will produce myself in court and I am emphatic and believing God that I am going to win the case. That is my position, I am not scared of them, all these two years, I know that I have garnered experienced.
“From the court I was taken to Keffi prison where I was remanded for two weeks before Ambassador Boladei Igali and Frederick came to my rescue to sign my bail bond. I want to also thank Press Unlimited in Netherland for sending 2000 Euros to facilitate my release and I also thank everyone for the love shown me.
“If I am a militant, everyone would know and I would be in the creeks, I wouldn’t have owned an office to be doing my own thing. Thank God the matter is in court. I have filed in suit in the FHC Abuja to enforce my fundamental human rights, the matter is coming up on August 27. Mr Femi Falana, SAN, has assured me of wonderful legal representation. Thank for the reception. I thank NUJ, Bayelsa State chapter and I believe in the Nigerian judiciary that they are going to do justice to this issue.”