27 October 2008

Nigeria: Writers Decry Continued Detention of Online Journalist

Abuja — Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) on Sunday cried out over continued detention of the United States-based online journalist, Jonathan Elendu, by Nigeria's security agencies.

It also expressed serious concern over the reported deteriorating condition of health of the journalist.

Elendu has been held in solitary confinement by the State Security Service (SSS) for over nine days and without charge.

He was arrested at the Abuja International Airport on arrival from the U.S. last week.

According to the National Coordinator of HURIWA, Onwubike, "Elendu's counsel, Ugo Muoma, informed us that although no contact has been established with the blogger since his arrest nine days ago, he was however reliably informed that Elendu was being kept in inhuman conditions and tortured to either disclose the sources of the several embarrassing news reports on prominent political leaders in Nigeria.

"He was also being reportedly pressured into framing up some others."

Apparently afraid of poisoning, Elendu is said to have gone without food and water for the past nine days, and has vowed to continue the hunger strike until he is released.

"As a human rights body, HURIWA condemns the SSS resort to torture (physical and psychological) to extract information from Mr. Jonathan Elendu.

"It is unimaginable that the SSS would resort to Stone Age methods of extracting information in a brazen breach of the fundamental human rights of Mr. Jonathan Elendu in an administration that has made respect for the rule of law its mantra," Onwubike said.

The human rights activist also stated that "equally condemnable is the reported transfer of Elendu from the custody of the SSS to that of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for possible arraignment for money laundering, since SSS appears to have come to the end of the road.

"If true, this calls to question the competence of the SSS as an intelligence and security organisation."

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