Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Detained Bureau Chief of Daily Independent newspaper, Tony Ezimakor, who was released unconditionally after seven days in the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS ), has said some personnel were praying with him every night for his release.
Ezimakor, in a telephone interview on Political Platform with RayPower 100.5FM, on Wednesday, said he was initially shocked to find out that some of the personnel in the course of carrying out their assignments were human after all.
Ezimakor , who said he was glad to breath the air of freedom, to be united with his family as well as take care of his health, refused to comment on report that he was forced to disclose his source of information.
When asked to comment on attempt to get him to disclose his source of information, Ezimakor said, “I won’t like to go into those details now. What is paramount in my mind now is to settle down, look after my health and of course thank you guys who stood out there in solidarity and for taking this matter to the global audience. Thanks to God I have been released and I am talking to you now as a free citizen.
“I was released voluntarily by the DSS. There is no attachment. It is one of the hazards of the job.”
Asked how he felt when he was threatened with charge of terrorism if he did not disclose his source, he said, “There was no such charge, there was no such threat. To be honest, sometimes we tend to paint the DSS black because of the kind of image they have that has been inflicted on our psychic.
“Most of them are very professional. Nobody tried to force me to do what I do not want to do. Of course there are certain psychological things you could see as threat but I can tell you that it was a very good experience.”
Ezimakor said the DSS were quite courteous in their dealings with him. “They were very courteous. To be honest, there were some that in the night will wake me up to join them in prayers. I was shocked initially that we still have people that even though they still have professional work to do, they still have this human elements in them. It was exciting.”
Asked if he was comfortable saying those prayers with them and was it for his release, the Daily Independent Abuja Bureau Chief said, “Of course it was for my release, not for me to continue to stay with them.”
Asked if his incarceration would in anyway affect his job, Ezimakor said, “No. You know the job has its own hazards and what I have just had is one of those hazards. But the thing is that the moment you step into certain territory questions are bound to be asked. Because we enjoy freedom so much, people do not always want to be asked questions about what they have done. It is quite normal, anybody can be asked questions, so long as it is done civilly, anybody can ask question and get answer.”
The service had, on Wednesday, last week, invited the journalist, an invitation he voluntarily honoured. Accompanied by Photojournalist , Jide Oyekunle, the two journalists were detained till 3: 00pm when Oyekunle was allowed to go. And so begun Ezimakor’s ordeal.
He was left incommunicado as he was denied access to food, his wife and lawyer till 10:00pm.
Ezimakor had written a story on February 22, 2018 on the release of the abducted Chibok girls and the roles played by the Swiss negotiator as well as the Nigeria collaborator.
The service is miffed at the story and wondered how the journalist had access to such classified information which they claimed that it embarrassed the Swiss Government.
Public outrage had trailed his arrest and detention with many human rights organisations and individuals coming out to condemn the action saying it is an affront on press freedom.