*Amnesty International frowns at Police raid of media house
Police in Abuja have reluctantly released the two PREMIUM TIMES journalists that were arrested on Thursday afternoon with the intention to further detain, harass, intimidate and scheme them for trial before a Magistrate Court that will order their confinement.
Dapo Olorunyomi, publisher of the newspaper, was arrested alongside the judiciary correspondent, Evelyn Okakwu, at around 5:00 p.m from their Abuja headquarters.
They were released on bail after a serious pressure and international social media propagation by Nigerians both on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They were instructed to report at the FCT Police Command Headquarters by 8:00 a.m. Friday morning. In a series of tweets from its handle @AmnestyNigeria, the rights group said, “it will investigate the circumstances of this raid and the arrests of the journalists.”
Highly-placed police sources said the invitation could be a ploy to detain the journalists for an extended period but this time with a film cover using a Magistrate who would have been instructed to give them bail conditions that cannot be immediately met so as to detain them across the weekend.
The police source said there are chances that the two could be taken before a Magistrate’s Court. “From what I understand, if they report Friday morning, they will be taken to a Magistrate’s Court and arraigned before a judge that will readily comply with the police arrangement and grant order for them to be detained,” the source said.
“That way, they can then claim to be detaining them legally.”
The development has sparked widespread condemnation, with the Amnesty International promising to launch an investigation into the motive behind it.
The journalists were arrested after several plain-clothed officers raided PREMIUM TIMES office in Abuja.
The newspaper’s Managing Editor, Idris Akinbajo, hailed the “overwhelming” support from Nigerians and readers around the world. He said the paper would release a full statement after the journalists meet the police Friday morning.
Olorunyomi, a founding member of TheNews Magazine that fought the military is no stranger to police and state harassment. The magazine was proscribed, he was forced on exile and his wife, Ladi, and a six-day old son were also arrested and detained in the era that led to the eventual democracy.
The latest development is a function of alleged complaint of Lieutanant General Tanko Yusuf Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff on trumped up allegation of libel and defamation. Rather than go to court, he is employing the police as an instrument of oppression thereby denting and injuring the record of the Buhari administration’s implementation of the defunct Decree 4 and indecent mullification of the media rights in the country.