Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
A group, Ondewari Health, Education and Environmental Project (OHEEP), in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Council Area of Bayelsa State has written a protest letter to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists(CPJ) over the alleged arrest and continued detention of a Yenagoa based journalist and lawyer, Mr. Jones Abiri, publisher of a locally-based tabloid, Weekly Source, by operatives of Department of State Security (DSS), since 2016.
Abiri was reportedly arrested on July 21, 2016 at his Yenagoa office located at Amarata in the Bayelsa State capital, over allegations of involvement in militancy and kept in the DSS custody since 2016 without any formal arraignment in court.
OHEEP, in a statement issued, on Sunday, in Yenagoa and signed by over 17 members of the Odenwari community led by the Project officer and Project Director, Comrade Tontiemote Yeiyei and Comrade Alagoa Morris, respectively, condemned the continued detention of Abiri without being charged to Court for any offence.
The group which stated that they are worried about the health status of Abiri said the DSS has kept family members from reaching him since 2016.
They called on the DSS to produce him and charge him to court in line with the constitution if he has done anything wrong.
The letter read in part, “Family members and concerned indigenes of the community are, to say the least, traumatised as Jones Abiri condition and whereabouts remained unknown-especially as he was never known to be associated with criminals or known as violent persons or of criminal disposition.
“The appeal by OHEEP and some concerned natives of Ondewari is predicated on the fact that Jones Abiri has not been known or identified as criminal or violent fellow community folk.
“In view of that premise and as law abiding citizens, we are embolden by the 1999 constitutional provision of the fundamental Human Rights of every citizen of the Federal Republic Nigeria including other international and continental instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Right, to request that Jones Abiri be treated in accordance with the provisions of the law, if he has committed any crime against the Federal Government of Nigeria. We demand due process of related laws. “