Coalition condemns arrest, arraignment of journalist in Kaduna

THE Coalition for Whistle-blowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned the arrest, incarceration, and arraignment of a journalist, Gabriel Idibia, in Kaduna.

Idibia, a staff member of Daybreak Nigeria media organisation, was arrested following his report on the harsh living conditions within the Hajj Camp in Kaduna state.

In a statement by the deputy director at the Centre for Journalism, Innovation and Development (CJID), Busola Ajibola, on behalf of coalition members on Wednesday, November 29, the coalition said the act represented a ‘severe’ violation of press freedom, aiming to intimidate journalists in the lawful discharge of their duties.

“The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) vehemently condemns the unwarranted arrest, incarceration, and arraignment of Mr. Gabriel Idibia, head of bureau, northern operations at Daybreak Nigeria, by Operation “Yaki” Police in Kaduna on November 13th.

“Mr. Idibia was apprehended by Operation “Yaki” Police in Kaduna on November 13th and subjected to two days of detention over his exposé on the deplorable conditions of the 2023 Kaduna Hajj camp. Following his arrest, he was arraigned in court and released on November 15th, albeit under difficult bail conditions,” the coalition noted.

Idibia was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, and according to the statement, charges brought against him include defamation of character, intimidation, and incitement of contempt of religion.

“This act represents a severe violation of press freedom, aiming to intimidate journalists in the lawful discharge of their duties. Journalism is a constitutional right (Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution) empowering journalists to hold the government accountable to the public,” the statement further read.

    According to a release by Daybreak Nigeria, Idibia was pressured by Police officials to disclose his sources. He resisted.

    “The Coalition fervently implores the immediate intervention of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Civil Society Organizations, media rights groups, and all stakeholders to advocate on behalf of Mr. Idibia. The group also urges influential bodies to counsel those responsible for Mr. Idibia’s continuous harassment, emphasising the imperative to cease such unwarranted aggression,” the coalition noted.

    On September 24, Idibia reported that men and women who intended to go on pilgrimage slept on the floor in an overcrowded hall at the Kaduna Hajj Camp, a situation described as unIslamic.

    The report also revealed a lack of basic amenities such as potable water and a proper waste management system at the camp, among other challenges.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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