Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a pro-democracy and Civil rights body, has condemned the recent abduction by police of an Abuja-based journalist and publisher of National Trail newspaper, Mr. Inuwa Bwalya and his transfer to Borno State.
In a statement read at a press briefing in Abuja, the National Coordinator of HURIWA Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko said the group was reliably informed by our members in Borno State that Mr. Inuwa Bwalya may have been picked up on a trumped up charge because of his newspapers’ relentless expositions of alleged horrendous heist of public fund by Borno State government officials.
Mr. Inuwa Bwalya was a former information commissioner under the immediate past Borno State administration, doubled as media assistant to Peoples Democratic Party’s factional national chairman, Bunu Modu Sheriff, in Abuja.
HURIWA further alleged political undertones in Mr. Bwalya’s current travails in the hands of the police command of Borno State who were mobilised by the state government of Borno state to come to Abuja to abduct the only known critic of the current Borno state government who has a quantum of information on the financial transactions of that administration which in any case has political differences with the principal of Mr. Bwalya- former governor Alli Modu Sherriff.
HURIWA lamented that the police hierarchy currently in Nigeria has begun a terrible manhunt of media practitioners who are suspected of exposing alleged maladministration just as the group has called on Preside
nt Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Police Inspector General Alhaji Ibrahim Kpodum Idris to halt his current witch-hunt of media practitioners who are only fulfilling their constitutional duty as enshrined in section 22 thus:
“The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.”
Speaking specifically on the ordeals of the Abuja-based publisher of National Trail Newspaper Mr. Inuwa Bwalya who has been in detention for nearly four days since he was abducted in Abuja and bundled to Borno State, the Rights group has demanded his immediate release or his immediate arraignment in the court of competent jurisdiction because his prolonged detention violates Chapter four of the 1999 Constitution.
HURIWA reminded the police of the import of Section 35 of the Constitution which implies that Mr. Inuwa Bwala must be charged to court within 24 hours or freed unconditionally.
Specifically, Section 35 (4) (5) states as follows: “Any person who is arrested or detained in accordance with subsection (1) (c) of this section shall be brought before a court of law within a reasonable time…”
“(5) In subsection (4) of this section, the expression “a reasonable time” means -(a) in the case of an arrest or detention in any place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of forty kilometers, a period of one day”.
HURIWA recalled that newspapers reported that Borno state police command arrested and detained Inuwa Bwalya, an Abuja-based newspaper publisher, for alleged attempted murder.
Mr. Bwalya, a former Borno state commissioner of information, is accused of the attempted murder of the current Borno state deputy governor, Usman Durkwa.
But from investigations, HURIWA found out that he may have been picked because of his media related activities such as exposing corruption in Borno State or for his loyalty politically to the People’s Democratic Party [PDP] – a faction of which Inuwa’s erstwhile political boss is the self-acclaimed national chairman.