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COVID-19: SSS detains Akwa Ibom journalist, Kufre Carter over contoversial interview with anonymous doctor


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AKWA IBOM-based sports journalist, Kufre Carter is currently being held incommunicado by operatives of the State Security Service over a controversial audio clip on COVID-19  that he allegedly circulated on social media.

Kufre in a Twitter post said he received a call from the Director of Operations, DSS Uyo Command, Uchechukwu Nnatube, inviting to their office for questioning over his alleged involvement in the audio interview with a medical doctor.

The seven-part interview with an anonymous medical doctor centred around the foul play allegedly perpetuated by the State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, to manipulate the figures of COVID-19 tests in the state to downplay its magnitude.

Kufre was taken into custody by operatives of the SSS on April 27, after his visit to the state office in company of his lawyer, Augustine Asuquo.

Asuquo said he was not granted access to witness the interrogation of his client and was walked out of the premises by the security agents.

He said Nnatube later contacted him, demanding Kufre’s phone so that they could extract the purported audio recordings of the interview.

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The operatives also requested for the phone number of the anonymous doctor, he said.

The 1999 constitution as amended protects the fundamental rights of its citizens specifically section 37 guarantees the right to telephone conversations, correspondence, and telegraphic communications.

Inibehe Effiong, Head of Inibehe Effiong Chambers who also offers legal representation to Kufre in a statement alleged his client was being tortured by the SSS operatives to forcefully obtain a confession from him.

“From all indications, we reasonably believe that SSS officers are torturing Kufre Carter in their custody in their effort to extract a ‘confessional statement’ from our client. The SSS is torturing our client for him to hand over his private mobile phone to them,” he said.

The human right lawyer said he had called Nnatube on phone to express his displeasure with his office’s handling of the case, but his calls were ignored.

“We are aware that the Akwa Ibom State Government instigated the DSS to hunt, arrest, torture and detain our client over the alleged audio record after facing increasing public criticisms over their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

“Since Nigeria is a country governed by laws and not the Banana Republic, we ask the DSS in Akwa Ibom State to immediately retrace from their illegal actions and release Kufre Carter forthwith, or to charge him to court first thing on Tuesday,” he said.

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He said his client’s house had been searched by the DSS illegally to find his personal phone, stating their actions dated back to the times of an uncivilised era.

“We wish to also place on record that there is no social distancing at the SSS Command in Uyo. We hope that this is not a deliberate attempt to expose our client to the dreaded COVID-19.

“Nigerians and the international community should prevail on the SSS in Akwa Ibom State to act as a responsible law enforcement agency and release our client immediately, and stop behaving like a colonial police for politicians and public office holders in Akwa Ibom State,” he said.

Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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