FROM EMMANUEL ADEYEMI, Lokoja
The Publisher of a community magazine, The Policy and Law maker, Mr Friday Ogungbemi has been arrested and detained by security agents in Kogi state over a recent publication he allegedly made criticising the state government.
The publication also pointed out the alleged over bearing influence of the governor’s Chief of Staff, Mr Edward David Onoja and some of his alleged excesses.
While condemning the arrest and detention of the journalist, the Federated Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Publishers of Community based newspapers in Kogi State described as unlawful the arrest and detention Ogungbemi, saying it is the height of impunity by the state government.
The Publishers described the arrest as an attempt to muzzle the press in the state, adding that it is unnecessary and uncalled for, saying the government or any of its appointee who felt injured in any publication should have reacted through a rejoinder or seek redress in a court of law as is the practice in civilized democracy.
In a statement issued and signed by Abu Michael, Chairman and Gideon Ayodele, Secretary of the chapel respectively, it frowned at the alleged government action, describing it as the first of its kind in the state .
The Chapel said the continued detention of the publisher for over 48 hours over a civil issue has called to question the level of impunity the present change agenda seeks to correct but still practice, said the arrest was using a sledgehammer to kill an ant.
In his own reaction, a Right activist and coordinator of Centre for Human Right and Conflict Resolution, Comrade Idris Miliki described the act of arresting and detaining journalists without charging them to court as barbaric and inhuman.
According to him, Article 21 of the United Nation Human Rights allow every citizens of the world to participate in the affair of his or her country through a free chosen means., adding Article 19 says “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right include freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
He also said various sections of the Nigeria 1999 Constitutions as amended also uphold the rights of citizens to hold opinion and freedom of expression and wondered where the security agents in Kogi state derive the power to arrest and detain a journalist and a publisher for mere holding and expressing opinion through a legitimate means.
As at the time of filing this story, on friday afternoon, the journalist is yet to be released on bail or charged to court.