Nigeria: Atiku Condemns Arrest of Premium Times' Journalist

Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Abuja

A former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has condemned the arrest and detention of PREMIUM TIMES journalist, Samuel Ogundipe.

He made the condemnation via his official Twitter handle on Wednesday as he called for press freedom.

"The arrest and detention of @PremiumTimesng's reporter by @PoliceNG for his refusal to disclose his source to a story raises serious concerns about the preservation of the confidentiality of sources.

"I call for the protection of press freedom as guaranteed by our constitution," he tweeted.

The arrest and detention of @PremiumTimesng's reporter by @PoliceNG for his refusal to disclose his source to a story raises serious concerns about the preservation of the confidentiality of sources. I call for the protection of press freedom as guaranteed by our constitution.

- Atiku Abubakar (@atiku) August 15, 2018

Many Nigerians have condemned Mr Ogundipe's detention and also called for his immediate release.

Not only have local and international rights organisations demanded Mr Ogundipe's release, the hashtag #FreeSamuelOgundipe on Twitter has trended since Tuesday with many tweeting at the police. Despite these, the police spokesperson claimed he was not aware of the arrest.

Earlier, the police made a first public statement on the arrest and detention of Mr Ogundipe.

The police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, feigned ignorance as he said he is not aware of the details of the arrest. He also said no Nigerian is beyond being arrested by the police when an investigation is being carried out.

The police, through the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), on Tuesday arrested and detained Mr Ogundipe, who covers the security sector for PREMIUM TIMES.

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 over three hours of detention.

Messrs Mojeed and 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, Sani Ahmadu, was heard directing lawyers to "rush to court" to obtain a warrant to detain Mr Ogundipe.

Mr Mojeed, thereafter, asked Mr Ahmadu if he was aware that asking a journalist to reveal his source of a story is an embarrassment to Nigeria as global journalism standards dissuades such.

"I don't care if I embarrass Nigeria or not. I have the right to keep him here and I will keep him until he reveals his source," the DCP said.

Officials at the police headquarters told PREMIUM TIMES that the directive to detain the journalist came directly from the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who is said to be angry at this newspaper's critical reporting of his activities.

Many Nigerians, activists, lawyers and groups have called for the unconditional and immediate release of the reporter who is still in detention.

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