• Press Freedom: Coalition condemns continued detention of journalist by police

    Press freedom coalition condemns continued detention of journalist by police - nigeria newspapers online
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    • Stray Bullet Alert: Journalists Safe In Kano Government House, Official Assures 

    The arrest and continued detention of a journalist, Daniel Ojukwu, by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has generated condemnation from the Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF). 

    Ojukwu, who works with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), was arrested by the National Cybercrime Centre (NCCC) on May 1, 2024, over alleged violations of the 2015 Cybercrime Act.

    According to the FIJ, Ojukwu was taken into custody by the Nigeria Police without a clear cause.  The group said his family was not informed of his whereabouts until Friday, May 3, when they learned that he was being held at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) in Panti, Lagos State.  

    In a conversation with the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, had reportedly confirmed that Ojukwu was arrested and detained at the SCID facilities.

    In a statement yesterday made available to The Guardian in Taraba State by the coalition, the CWPPF expressed outrage over Ojukwu’s arrest and incarceration, stating that the action undermines democratic principles and infringe on press freedom.Apart from calling for Ojukwu’s immediate release, they also urged the Nigeria Police to follow proper legal procedures.

    “The reasons for his arrest and the exact charges have not been made public.“Arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists are unacceptable and negate the core principles of democracy.

    “The use of the Cybercrime Act to suppress journalism is a worrying trend that must be addressed,” the Deputy Director at CJID, Busola Ajibola, who signed the statement on behalf of the coalition, said.

    The CWPPF also called on the Inspector General of Police to ensure that the 2015 Cybercrime Act is not used as a tool to harass journalists or curb freedom of expression. The coalition noted that past instances of similar arrests had raised concerns about press freedom and the public’s right to information.

    “Journalism plays a critical role in democracy and any attempt to intimidate or suppress it threatens the entire democratic process,” Ajibola added.  The police, according to the statement, “must avoid using the Cybercrime Act to silence investigative journalism that seeks to promote transparency and accountability.”

    Meanwhile, the Kano State government has refuted a story that a stray bullet hit a journalist in the Government House, insisting that practicing journalists in Kano were not under any form of threat. 

    The government also cautioned the media to ensure they crosscheck their facts with relevant sources before going to town, stressing that doing so is a critical ingredient of reportage that is devoid of misleading the audience. 

    Director General, Media and Publicity, Government House, Sanusi Bature Dawakin-Tofa, who reacted to the story, said the incident that occurred last Friday evening was blown out of proportion. 

    In a statement yesterday, Dawakin-Tofa maintained that the reporter actually suffered an injury from metal debris that emanated from an ongoing construction site at the Government House. 

    The statement said: “The attention of the Kano State government has been drawn to a one-sided media report on social media revealing that a journalist, with the state-owned television station, attached to the Government House, was hit by a stray bullet.

    “The incident, which occurred amidst a flurry of misinformation, sparked widespread concern and speculation regarding the safety of journalists covering events at the Government House. 

    “However, the government will like to emphatically say that journalists are not under threat in Kano Government House. It is however worthy to caution journalists to ensure credible source while reporting any development and avoid unnecessary sensational angle that can mislead the public,” Dawakin-Tofa noted. 

    Explaining what actually happened, he said: “For clarity purpose, Naziru Yau, the reporter of the state television station sustained injuries from the metal debris emanating from an ongoing construction at the Kano State Government House, an area that has been barricaded for caution.

    “The truth of the incident emerged when medical professionals at the Government House clinic disclosed the true nature of Mr. Naziru’s injuries. The journalist expressed gratitude for the prompt medical attention he received and thanked well-wishers for their concern during his recovery.”

    Recall that the Federal Government had last Friday given assurance that the Federal Government would not compromise press freedom.The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, who spoke in Abuja at a press briefing organised by his ministry in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Environment and Ecological Management, and the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO), to commemorate this year’s World Press Freedom Day, said the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu would guarantee unfettered access to journalists and provide an enabling environment for the media. 

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