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Newspaper turns heat on Police, President Jonathan over detention of journalists

By News Express on 10/04/2013

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If Nigerian authorities expected praise from the Abuja-based LEADERSHIP Newspapers over yesterday’s release of the remaining two of its arrested journalists, they were very much mistaken.

Rather than jump for joy, the newspaper management last night came down hard on both the Nigeria Police and President Goodluck Jonathan over the ordeal of the journalists and the condition attached to the release of two of them. In a statement it issued late last night, LEADERSHIP Management spat fire, warning that it had no intention of either disclosing the source of the contentious story that landed the journalists into trouble or allowing Messrs Tony Amokeodo and Chibuzo Ukaibe to report to the police daily asthey have been directed to do.  

Below is the text of the statement entitled “Statement on the Arrest and Detention of LEADERSHIP Journalists”:

“After 48 hours of nightmare, four journalists with LEADERSHIP who were detained by the police on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan were released last night.

Two of them – Mr. Tony Amokeodo and Mr. Chibuzo Ukaibe – were, however, released conditionally: they have been asked to report at the police headquarters by 10am every day for undisclosed reasons.

“We wish to restate that these conditions are obnoxious and unacceptable in any democratic society.

“Our journalists do not work for the police and have no business reporting to the police headquarters while earning their pay at LEADERSHIP.

“We have it on very good authority that President Jonathan will not be satisfied until the journalists have disclosed their sources and turned in the source document.

“It is ridiculous that Jonathan’s government should be obsessed with having a document, which its handlers said was fictitious in the first place.

“We have no intention of indulging their vexatious desires and insist on our constitutional responsibility to hold the government accountable to the people and the inviolacy of the freedom of information law.

“The police have no right to arrest and illegally detain our journalists – or any other journalist – as they have done; we shall not let this violation go unchallenged.

“If the police have no time to read the law, they should seek its interpretation elsewhere.

“Under Nigerian law, the two journalists have freedom of expression and freedom of movement, and they belong to the only profession assigned a role in the constitution to hold the three arms of government accountable to the people.

“Because we do not intend to obstruct police investigations in any way, we advise the presumed agents of the law to take our staff members to court whenever they find anything incriminating against them.

“As journalists, they have done their job of reporting the news; they have not been paid to assist security agents in their own investigations.

“The Nigerian government must understand that this very crude tactic of arresting journalists and invading media houses is dated.

“Even smaller African countries do not engage in those uncivilised acts anymore. And, certainly, no democracy in the world still does it.

“No doubt, those who arrested our editors are just giving the country a very bad name in the comity of nations.

“We wish to convey our gratitude to the men and women of conscience from all corners of the world that have shown solidarity in their condemnation of the illegal arrest and detention of this newspaper’s journalists by the Nigeria Police acting on the orders of President Jonathan.

“Without their intervention our journalists might still have been in Jonathan’s gulag.”

•Photo: Tony Amokeodo and Chibuzo Ukaibe may not obey the order to report to the police daily.

Source News Express

Posted 10/04/2013 10:11:19 AM

 

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