Nigeria: Amnesty, Others Condemn Re-Arrest of Bayelsa Journalist

Jones Abiri.

Amnesty International (AI), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Concerned Nigerians Group have condemned the re-arrest of Yenagoa, Bayelsa-based journalist, Abiri Jones, by suspected operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), describing the action as humiliating and unacceptable.In a tweet yesterday, the global organisation said since March 30, no information had been disclosed by the Nigerian government on the whereabouts or reasons for the fresh incarceration.

CPJ's Programme Director, Angela Quintal, called on the federal and state authorities to offer clues to his present locality and rationale behind the new development.She urged government to ensure that Abiri's rights were not "violated yet again and that due process is respected."

The editor and publisher of the weekly Source newspaper was arrested in 2016 and released last August following campaigns by local and international rights organisations. Abiri underwent two suits before his freedom last year. While a court threw out the case against him for lack of jurisdiction, another ordered the secret police to pay him damages for his illegal detention and violation of rights.

According to an eyewitness, the journalist was in company of some colleagues at his Azikoro junction office when the armed men in a white Hilux van and a black Prado SUV bundled him into one of the vehicles and drove off.While his location remains unknown, the DSS, was however, yet to comment on the development as at press time.

In his reaction, the convener of Concerned Nigerians Group, Prince Deji Adeyanju, said: "We condemn in its entirety the Gestapo manner in which Jones Abiri was re-arrested by suspected men of the DSS."We condemn the continued ill-treatment and intimidation of Mr. Abiri, who was performing his civic duties of gathering information for the public and holding government accountable.

"The re-arrest of journalist Abiri, who was released few months ago by a competent court of jurisdiction after a prolonged incarceration by the DSS, is a clear affront on press freedom." However, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described the revocation by the Federal High Court, Abuja the bail granted the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, as unjust, unfair and unethical.

It called on President Muhammadu Buhari to terminate his prosecution and other members of the group as well as opt for a constructive national dialogue. Justice Binta Nyako had last Thursday revoked the bail and issued a bench warrant on Kanu.In a statement yesterday by the national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA faulted the decision "without any recourse to the circumstances that occasioned the reported disappearance of the leader of IPOB."

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