16 August 2018

Nigeria: #freesamuelogundipe - Nuj Writes Osinbajo, Accuses IGP Idris of Hounding Journalists

Photo: Premium Times
Protesters Storm Nigeria Police HQ, demanding Samuel Ogundipe's release

The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has written a petition to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo against the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.

The union complained about the detention of PREMIUM TIMES journalist Samuel Ogundipe and other journalists by the police under Mr Idris.

"I write this petition on behalf of thousands of Nigerian journalists, against the Inspector-General of police, Mr Ibrahim Idris over his incessant attacks on journalists and violent violations of their human rights, culminating in yesterday's (Tuesday) arrest of a Premium Times reporter, Mr Samuel Ogundipe," Abdulwaheed Odusile, the NUJ President wrote in the letter.

"Mr Ogundipe is being detained over the publication of the letter of the IGP to your Excellency, in respect of the police investigation on the DSS siege on National Assembly. The journalist is being held to disclose his source of information, a demand that is against the ethical precepts of our profession."

Mr Odusile said the police chief has a history of harassing journalists.

"Your Excellency, we want to note that this is not the first time the IGP has been hounding the press. On January 1, this year, two journalists who are brothers, Messrs Daniel and Izuchukwu Elomba were abducted in their homes by SARS officers, on the orders of the IGP and detained for ten days, over what was published on their blog purportedly against the IGP.

"It would be recalled that counsel to the two journalists, Festus Keyamo, (SAN) petitioned your Excellency and you caused the matter to be investigated.

"Consequently, on April 23, 2018, a Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja awarded N5 million damages against the police for this illegal detention.

Also, on March 13, 2018, SARS officers, under the control of the IGP, abducted Abdulahi Krishi, the National Assembly correspondent of Daily Trust, right at the premises of the National Assembly. He was subsequently released 24 hours later after an outcry from the media.

"Your Excellency, it is obvious that the excesses of the IGP against the media is giving your government a bad image as an anti- press government, even when it's obvious these infractions were carried out without the presidency's imprimatur.

"We therefore implore your Excellency to call the Inspector-General to order and stop his incessant attacks on the media.

"We also demand that the detained reporter of Premium Times be released forthwith."

Mr Osinbajo is yet to react to the petition.

Mr Ogundipe, who reports the security sector for PREMIUM TIMES, was arrested and detained on Tuesday after he refused to disclose his source for a story.

The police secretly arraigned Mr Ogundipe on Wednesday at a Kubwa magistrate court in Abuja, denying him access to legal representation. He was accused of criminal tresspass and stealing a police document.

Local and international rights groups have condemned the arrest of Mr Ogundipe and demanded his release.

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