ABUJA – The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and its sister association, Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (OMPAN) have called for the immediate and unconditional release of PREMIUM TIMES reporter, Samuel Ogundipe, who was detained on Tuesday by the Nigerian Police for refusal to disclose source of information for a story.
The NUJ President, Alhaji Waheed Odusile in a separate press release said, the union was horrified by the constant harassment and molestation of journalists by the police and other agents of the State and requests that such should abate forthwith.
Odusile maintained that, confidentiality of sources is necessary for good journalism to flourish and journalists should not be coerced into revealing such sources.
“We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Samuel Ogundipe and an end to all forms of impunity against the media.
“The NUJ is horrified by the constant harassment and molestation of journalists by the police and other agents of the State and requests that such should abate forthwith.
“It should be noted that confidentiality of sources is necessary for good journalism to flourish and journalists should not be coerced into revealing such sources.”
Also speaking in Abuja on Wednesday, the National Public Relations Officer, Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (OMPAN), Comrade Ismaila Yahaya Kana noted that, Samuel Ogundipe acted within his rights to report the said letter and should not be held responsible for the inability of the Nigerian Police to manage its confidentiality or put a tight lid on all the sensitive documents it wants to keep away from the public.
Kana said, it was strange in a country that claims to be practicing democracy, a member of the fourth realm can be arrested and detained by the police without provocation.
“OMPAN notes with chagrin that Nigeria is fast becoming a Banana republic because of the high handedness of the police and other security agencies and this is not acceptable in a democratic dispensation.
“OMPAN wants to state very clearly that Nigerians can no longer tolerate this Military Junta style that the police is adopting to silence reporters and starting with the immediate and unconditional release of Samuel Ogundipe, the police must desist from further embarrassing Nigeria in the eye of the international community.”
In his reaction to the arrest, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, said, PREMIUM TIMES should not fail to institute an action in court against the Nigerian Police Force, regardless of whether Mr Ogundipe is subsequently released or kept in prison through Tuesday night.
“Whether Samuel is released tonight or arraigned in court tomorrow by the police, PT should take advantage of this unlawful demand of the police to challenge criminal libel and other obnoxious anti press laws in the statute book.
“While declaring seditious publications illegal and unconstitutional in 1983 in Arthur Nwankwo v The State; the Court of Appeal held that any public officer who feels defamed or embarrassed by any publication should sue for libel and not use the machinery of the State to harass his political opponents. The court proceeded to urge Nigerians to resist any attempt to use any of the laws imported into the country by the erstwhile colonial rulers to repress us,” Mr Falana said.