[World Policy Journal editorial board member, Azubuike Ishiekwene, demands that the Nigerian government release his journalists immediately.]
Four journalists with LEADERSHIP Newspapers have been detained at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The journalists, Mrs. Chinyere Fred-Adebulugbe; Mr. Tony Amokeodo; Mr. Chibuzor Ukaibe; and Mr. Chuks Ohuegbe, had reported at the Force Headquarters on Monday morning to honour an invitation by the police.
The Director, Human Capital and former LEADERSHIP Sunday Editor, Mrs. Fred-Adegbulugbe, who led the journalists said, “After the journalists finished writing statements, DIG Peter Gana suddenly excused himself on a call from IGP Mohammed Abubakar.
“We were later told that we would not be allowed to leave except we produced the source of the story. It was clear that this was not the call of the police. It is from President Goodluck Jonathan.
“We told them that it would be unethical to disclose our source and asked them to charge us to court, if they wanted. They said they wanted to have the document. We said the bromide had been published and wondered why they were making such a fuss, since they said the document was a work of fiction.
“The have made it clear that we would not be released except we give them the document. We can’t get out. I was escorted to use the toilet after begging.”
This is a calculated and brazen affront on press freedom; we are bereft that a supposedly elected government would stoop this low.
We demand the unconditional and immediate release of our journalists – Mrs. Chinyere Fred-Adebulugbe (Director, Human Capital); Chuks Ohuegbe (Managing Editor); Tony Amokeodo (Group News Editor); and Chibuzor Ukaibe (Political Reporter).
President Jonathan and his handlers need to tell Nigerians and the civilized world why they have suddenly moved from describing the document as “fiction,” to a do-or-die obsession with knowing the source; they need to tell Nigerians most of who now live in mortal fear of their personal safety and security, if clamping down on the press has now become a priority sport.
On our part, we wish to restate our resolve to continue to hold the government to account as enshrined in Chapter 22 of the constitution and to remain resolute in championing the course of press freedom and the right of the people to know.
We stand by our story and will neither be cowed nor intimidated by the strong-arm tactics of President Jonathan nor by the puerile attempts by his spokesmen—Doyin Okupe and Dr. Reuben Abati—to tarnish our report.
Azubuike Ishiekwene is a member if the Editorial Board at the World Policy Journal and the Group Managing Director at LEADERSHIP Group Limited.
[Photo Courtesy of flickr]