SAMUEL Ogundipe, an investigative reporter with Premium Times, is to spend the next five days in police custody after the police obtained a fraudulent court order on Wednesday to so detain him.
Ogundipe was arrested on Wednesday and is currently being detained at the police headquarters in Abuja. The police are forcing him to reveal the source of a story he wrote about the report written by Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on the issue of sacked former Director General of the DSS,Lawal Daura.
According to Premium Times, the police secretly arraigned Ogundipe at a Magistrate Court in Kubwa, Abuja, on Wednesday afternoon, while denying him access to his lawyers. He was charged with criminal trespass and theft of police document.
“They brought me to a magistrate court in Kubwa where they arraigned me. The magistrate said they should detain me for five days,” Ogundipe told Musikilu Mojeed, Premium Times Editor-In-Chief when he called him with a phone belonging to an official of the magistrate.
“They accused me of criminal trespass. They said I stole secret documents. The magistrate does not know the details, because they did not include in the charge that I am a journalist. I was not allowed to contact my lawyers.
“They also did not allow me to call anyone until the magistrate ordered them to let me make a call. I am currently using the registrar’s phone to make this call and they are collecting it.”
Mojeed told newsmen that the action of the police is an embarrassment to Nigeria.
“Each day, police continue to behave in ways that embarrass this country,” he said. “Premium Times has a constitutional duty to inform the Nigerian people and hold public officials to account. It will neither be intimidated nor cowed by the filthy antics of the police.”
NUJ petitions Osinbajo
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Journalists has written a petition against IGP Idris to Acting President Osinbajo over his incessant attacks on journalists and violent violations of their human rights, citing Ogundipe’s case as the most recent example.
“We want to note that this is not the first time the IGP has been hounding the press. On January 1, this year, two journalists who are brothers, Messrs Daniel and Izuchukwu Elomba were abducted in their homes by SARS officers, on the orders of the IGP and detained for ten days, over what was published on their blog purportedly against the IGP,” read the petition signed by Abdulwaheed Odusile, NUJ National president.
“Also, on March 13, 2018, SARS officers, under the control of the IGP, abducted Abdulahi Krishi, the National Assembly correspondent of Daily Trust, right at the premises of the National Assembly. He was subsequently released 24 hours later after an outcry from the media.
“Your Excellency, it is obvious that the excesses of the IGP against the media is giving your government a bad image as an anti-press government, even when it’s obvious these infractions were carried out without the presidency’s imprimatur.
“We, therefore, implore your Excellency to call the Inspector-General to order and stop his incessant attacks on the media. We also demand that the detained reporter of Premium Times be released forthwith.”
Many international rights groups have condemned the high-handedness of the Nigeria Police and its flagrant disregard for basic rights.
“The Nigerian police must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Samuel Ogundipe, who has been in unlawful police detention since yesterday,” Amnesty International.
“The duty of journalists is not to please the authorities – it is to share information in the interest of the public, and forcing journalists to reveal their sources is illegal.”
Kaduna Senator, Shehu Sani, also weighed in on the issue, urging the Nigerian police to release the detained journalist unconditionally.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is yet to react to the development. Similarly, all calls to the phone line of the police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, were not answered.
NUJ Press Release
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
The Nigeria Union of Journalists condemns in the strongest terms the arrest and detention of Premium Times Reporter, Samuel Ogundipe today by the Police and his detention at the facility of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS in Abuja.
Samuel Ogundipe was arrested for reporting on the report sent to the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbanjo by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris on the sacked and detained DG of SSS, Malam Lawal Daura.
The NUJ is horrified by the constant harassment and molestation of Journalists by the Police and other Agents of the State and requests that such should abate forthwith.
It should be noted that confidentiality of sources is necessary for good journalism to flourish and Journalists should not be coerced into revealing such sources.
We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Samuel Ogundipe and an end to all forms of impunity against the media.