*Describes Action as Barbaric
*Wants Police to Tender Apology
Following the siege on the premises of Kings Communication Limited, publishers of MM Plus and the arrest of its reporter, Mr. Yusuf Odejobi, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos Council has strongly condemned the actions of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
Though Odejobi has been released after being handcuffed and paraded like a common criminal, the NUJ flayed the action of the NPF saying that it was not in tandem with democratic tenets.
Odejobi was paraded for over five hours at the Zonal CID Zone 2 Command, Onikan, Lagos.
The NPF siege on the newspaper outfit, the arrest of Odejobi and the invitation to the Editor-in-Chief of MM Plus, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke was over a story on Dangote Refinery.
The ordeal of the reporter and newspaper outfit was sequel to the directives of Dangote Group Spokesman, Mr. Anthony Chiejina who had earlier threatened to deal with the media house if it did not retract story on Dangote refinery.
The NUJ Lagos Council Chairman, Mr. Adeleye Ajayi and the Secretary, Mr. Tunde Olalere in a statement obtained by Maritime Bits, flayed the actions of the NPF just as it maintained that it was barbaric to have handcuffed and paraded Odejobi in a criminal way for more than five hours at the Zonal CID Zone 2 Command, Onikan, Lagos.
It therefore demanded what it called “an unreserved apology” from the police for the impunity against the publishers of MMS Plus by unjustifiably treating Odejobi as a criminal.
It maintained that the arrest of the reporter over a story on Dangote Refinery written by the news medium was tantamount to gagging the press and another attack by security operatives on the freedom of the press.
Continuing, it said: “The police invaded the headquarters of Kings Communications Limited in Lagos in the early hours of Tuesday. We gathered that the policemen acted on the directives of Dangote Group Spokesman, Mr. Anthony Chiejina who had allegedly threatened to deal with the leadership of the media outfit for publishing a news story titled, “AMCON May Take Over Dangote Refinery As Liabilities Swell“. It was also gathered that the Editor-in-Chief of MMS Plus, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke has also been invited by the Police. The dastard action of the police is another threat to the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press as the Fourth estate of the realm. The police is learned enough to know that in such instance, there is room for legal actions instead of taking laws into their hands by dehumanizing a journalist,” NUJ said.
The union noted that the freedom of expression as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) guarantees the right to express views on issues through any medium of choice. Press freedom is also concomitant to the right to express views. The police should know that free expression is the bedrock of democracy and a necessary ingredient for an enabling free civil society”.
The NUJ emphasized that security operatives are duty bound to join in promoting press freedom as enshrined in Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution. All overzealous activities of security operatives against the press must stop for democracy to survive and thrive.
It advised the management of Dangote Group to resort to appropriate alternative measures rather than adopting an undemocratic move in gagging the press, noting that journalists as professionals have the responsibility to monitor, governance and report to the public.
According to it, section 22 of the constitution imposes a duty for the media to hold government accountable at all times. Relatively, those in the private sector are not immune to also being held accountable. We, therefore, view the action of the police against the publishers of MMS Plus as another act of impunity against the press. Let it be known that nobody can cage the press.
It maintained that it should be a symbiotic relationship between the press and the security operatives, rather than bullying and intimidating the press.