ActionAid Nigeria has strongly condemned the arrest of Premium Times reporter, Samuel Ogundipe, describing the arrest as intimidation and an attempt to undermining press freedom and the principles of democracy.
Nihinlola Ayanda, Communications Coordinator, ActionAid, made this assertion in a statement in Abuja on Thursday.
Ayanda quoted the organisation’s Country Director, Ene Obi, as saying that the arrest of the journalist without legal representation and access to his lawyer should be totally condemned.
According to Obi, Ogundipe’s arrest, torture, bank account freeze, secret arraignment without legal representation by the Nigerian Police is condemnable; such acts undermine press freedom and Nigeria’s hard-earned democracy.
She 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 allows citizens access to public records and information held by public officials or institutions.
“It empowers newsmen to discharge their duty fairly and truthfully and the government has the responsibility of upholding the law and promoting democracy without any form of press bullying.”
She noted that if any media organisation had published any information that was not true, relevant authorities should seek civil ways of dealing with such issues.
Obi called on the Nigerian Police and other security agents to refrain from arresting journalists, who were fulfilling their constitutional obligations as enshrined in Section 22 of Nigeria’s Constitution.
She said if this was followed, it would make it obligatory for the media to hold public office holders accountable.
She, however, described Ogundipe as “courageous” while calling on journalists not to desist from carrying out their constitutional obligations in promoting the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the police through the Special Anti-Robbery Squad on Tuesday arrested and detained Ogundipe, who covers security beat for Premium Times.