OGA Uhia, a 71-year-old Publisher of Power Steering Magazine has accused Goddy Jedy-Agba, the Minister of State for Power and Michael Ogbizi, a Deputy Inspector General of Police of being responsible for his unlawful detention for 29 days.
Narrating his ordeal, Thursday, in an interview published by The Union Nigeria, the journalist who is also the Editor-In-Chief of the monthly magazine faulted accused the two public officers of violating his rights by detaining him beyond 48 hours.
According to him, he had written an investigation indicting Jedy-Agba of his alleged involvement in an incident that led to the 2012 Dana airline crash.
The Minister, he noted was a senior manager in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as of the period. He said there were other ‘grievous reports’ but the minister allegedly chose to react to the particular report.
According to him, the Minister found the report unpleasing, and as a result led to his arrest as reportedly directed by Ogbizi who is the head of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID), Abuja.
“As a matter of fact, of the three major stories in that edition, the Minister tried to cover the others with this one. This was not the most grievous of the stories,” he stated.
“The story on the stealing of crude oil in Nigeria would have been the major cover. He systematically avoided that one to pick his alleged involvement in the crash of the Dana aircraft in 2012. That notwithstanding, he picked me and locked me up for 29 days on the instance of the DIG, of Force CID headquarters, Abuja, Mr Michael Ogbizi, his mother’s younger brother.”
Prior to Uhia’s release, several newspapers had earlier reported on the incident. The Nigerian Union of journalists (NUJ) also intervened in the situation, advising the minister to approach the court rather than detaining the journalist.
The publisher was arrested on October 13 following a petition filed by the Minister’s lawyer, Obi Nwakor.
He was accused to have defamed the minister in a 15-count charge.
Ohia’s lawyer, Alexandra Okota consequently filed an application challenging decision of the Police against the accused.
On November 10, the presiding judge, Justice A.B Mohammed of the Federal High Court (FHC) 19, Gudu, Abuja, rejected the prosecutor’s request on continued detainment of the accused.
His bail request was eventually granted after spending 29 days in police detention.
I’ve been facing detentions right from Abacha’s regime
While granting the interview, Uhia revealed how he was always detained by successive governments since the regime of former Military Administrator, General Sani Abacha for exposing government inadequacies.
He said he was detained during the era of the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. Though he escaped being incarcerated during Umar Musa Yar’dua’s government, he said he was still detained during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
Uhia said while being detained at the FCID in Area 10, he managed to ensure the situation in the facility did not affect his psychology.
He applauded his family and the media for their supports but urged journalists to remain committed and not deterred by such experiences he suffered.
The detention, he noted would provide journalists with better opportunity to unravel the truth about government activities and expose lots of corrupt practices.
The ICIR contacted Frank Mba, the Police spokesperson to react to the claim but he did not respond to text sent to his line. The Minister had earlier distanced himself from the arrest and detention but claimed he only submitted a petition against the accused.