Yemi Adedeji, Abuja
The ActionAid Nigeria has strongly condemned the arrest of Premium Times reporter, Samuel Ogundipe, describing the arrest as intimidation and attempt at undermining press freedom and the principles of democracy.
Ene Obi, ActionAid Country Director, in a statement issued on Thursday by the Head of Media, Lola Ayanda said that Ogundipe’s arrest, torture, bank account freeze, secret arraignment without legal representation by the Nigerian police is condemnable; stressing that such acts undermine press freedom and Nigeria’s hard-earned democracy
She noted that If any media organisation has published any information that is not true, relevant authorities should seek civil ways of dealing with such issues.
She called on the Nigerian Police and other federal and state security agents to refrain from arresting journalists who are fulfilling their constitutional obligation as enshrined in Section 22 of Nigeria Constitution which makes it obligatory for the media to hold to account public office holders.
Obi said; “Nigeria is not a police state, so journalists should not be persecuted for executing their responsibility of informing and educating the public.
“The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows citizens access to public records and information held by public officials or institutions. It empowers the press to discharge its duty fairly and truthfully and the government has the responsibility of upholding the law and promoting democracy without any form of press bullying.”
Obi who described Ogundipe as “courageous” warned that “the continued infringement on freedom of the media is detrimental to our democracy and is a dangerous walk back to the dark days of the 1990s in which security operatives themselves became vulnerable to the most dreadful form of dictatorship.