By Henry Ojelu
The International Press Centre, IPC has condemned the arrest of Vanguard Newspaper Ebonyi State Correspondent, Peter Okutu by the police.
In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Lanre Arogundade, IPC said the arrest of Okutu is unacceptable and condemnable.
The statement reads: “Today’s arrest of Vanguard Correspondent in Ebonyi State, Mr. Peter Okutu, reportedly on the orders of a local government Chairman in the state, is another unbecoming act of executive lawlessness.
By ordering security operatives to arrest the journalist, the concerned Chairman of
Ohaukwu Local Government Council of the state, Mr. Clement Odah, violated the right of Mr. Okutu to self dignity and violently assaulted press freedom in the process.
IPC hereby reiterates that any body or institution that feels aggrieved about a story should either exercise the right of reply or seek redress legally and not embark on extrajudicial self-help.
Arresting a journalist and getting him detained over a story is not an acceptable means of seeking such redress and the act of Mr. Odah is unacceptable. We condemn it and demand the immediate release of Mr. Okutu.
Coming after a similar arrest and detention of The Sun newspaper reporter, Agwu Chijioke, on the orders of the State Governor, David Umahi, who also featured prominently in the ordea of Mr. Okutu, IPC is worried that the state government is fast becoming notorious for its serial violation of the rights of journalists.
The state government is hereby reminded that such attacks on journalists over the performance of their legitimate duty are antithetical to democratic norms and values.