*Condemns continued assault on journalists
*Welcomes release of kidnapped journalist but…
Some Nigerian politicians, in yet another characteristic form are gradually inching the country towards joining countries that shame the African continent, in terms of attacks on the media by some members of the political leadership.
The release was signed by Shuaibu Usman Leman, the National Secretary of the Union, he wrote: “most recent was the arrest and detention of Friday Ogungbemi, Publisher of Policy and Lawmaker Magazine by the Department of State Service in Lokoja, Kogi State, at the instance of Governor Yahaya Bello.
This recent development is worrisome to the Union as daily there are clear signals of such attacks on media professionals. As professionals whose responsibility is to monitor governance and hold Government accountable to the masses, Journalists now live in perpetual fear of being arrested by security operatives or attacked by faceless assailants without any just cause.
It is worth stressing that the freedom of thought and opinion is a precious human right and to subvert it is to destroy all other freedoms. This freedom includes the right to seek and receive information from all available sources to enable formulation of proper opinions to whomsoever one desires and to do so through whichever means it is feasible to communicate. Such attacks we believe are meant to curtail such freedoms.
These attacks are an anathema to democracy and should be denounced by all. Rather than continue with this illegality we call on Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to seek legal redress if he feels truly aggrieved by the publication. Attacks against journalists and media equipment are illegal under international humanitarian law. Despite this, the Nigerian system remains mainly antagonistic to the media.
The NUJ is highly agitated by the arrest and continued detention without trial of Friday Ogungemi whose alleged crime was authoring an Editorial on the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kogi State, Mr Edward Onoja, captioned: “OVERZEALOUS CHIEF OF STAFF ACTS GOVERNOR EXTRAORDINAIRE.”
In a democracy, politicians should be seen to be protecting all and sundry and not only the interest of those in authority, and this makes the arrest and continued detention of this Journalist unhealthy and injurious to the nation’s quest for genuine democracy. We condemn it and call for the immediate and unconditional release of Friday Ogungemi.
In a related development, the NUJ welcome the release of a kidnapped female journalist, Yuadoo Tor Agbidye, the Controller News, Radio Benue by gunmen who broke into her house. The kidnap further heightens another dimension to the problems of insecurity for journalists in the country.
Despite her release the Nigeria Union of Journalists is still worried by the alarming level of insecurity of life and property in the country which are dear signs of danger to Nigeria’s democracy and to National Security.
We have watched with alarm this ugly situation where unscrupulous persons are trying to pull the nation dangerously into the precipice as a result of their criminal activities. Regrettably, this situation has not abated as these criminals continued to take hostages at will demanding for huge sums of money from poor citizens.
While the Federal Government and the various security agencies continue to reassure citizens of adequate protection of life and property, yet the situation remains extremely uncomfortable as Journalists and other citizens don’t know who the next victim will be. This evil has continued to wreak havoc on the already fragile polity and the threat to a possible implosion stares our leaders glaringly in the face, while they remain completely unable to reverse the trend.
It is therefore imperative that we call on the Federal Government to device adequate means of curtailing this crime to reassure Nigerians of their security and that of their property. The nation cannot afford any further degeneration of the security situation with all the attendant consequences.