The Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) condemns the attack and arrest of Mr Saviour Imukodo by the police on the orders of the Akwa Ibom State Chief Judge, Ekaette Obot.
On Wednesday, July 27, Mr. Imukodo, a reporter with Premium Times, covering a court proceeding, was first harassed and ushered out of the court before Judge Obot ordered his arrest.
Sadly, this is not the first time journalists, media professionals, press freedom advocates and civil rights activists have been targets of assault by anti-democratic elements. Judge Obot has intentionally shown disregard for the constitution which gives journalists the right to gather and disseminate information in the public interest.
CWPPF also condemns the raid by Nigeria police of the Abuja head office of the Peoples Gazette in Utako on July 23, and the arrest of Mr Adenekan, an assistant managing editor.
Recall that the officers asked to see the managing editor, Samuel Ogundipe, and reporter Adefemola Akintade, for reporting a story in relation to a corruption story and how the anti-graft agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), raided the home of former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, and recovered cash and luxury items.
These among several other attacks targeted at proactive individuals engaged in human rights and media freedom activism reflect the sustained assault on the civic space by elements resistant to being held accountable to the people.
CWPPF sees the work of individuals as well as media and civil society groups who expose corruption by state institutions and officials as complementary to the Federal Government’s fight against corruption. In exposing corruption, these individuals and groups are acting in the public interest and in the specific case of the media, it is constitutionally mandated to hold the government and public office holders accountable to the people. For this reason, the Federal Government and Nigerians should see the news media and civil society groups as partners and not adversaries.
While investigation is ongoing, we condemn the attacks on Mr. Imukodo and Mr Adenekan and demand their unconditional release. We wish to reiterate our position against any form of attack on journalists, media and civil rights actors. We call on the security agencies and appropriate state institutions to carry out thorough investigation and ensure the perpetrators of these heinous acts are brought to book.
The Coalition for Whistleblower and Protection of Press Freedom (CWPPF) shall continue to uphold its stance against any form of attack on human rights and press freedom in Nigeria and across the sub-Saharan region.
The Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF)is a group of media and civil society organisations committed to upholding democracy and good governance by protecting the ethos of whistleblowing, freedom of expression and press freedom.
OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative
Daily Trust Newspaper
Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism
Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID)
African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
Civic Media Lab
Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)
International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)
International Press Centre (IPC)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
HEDA Resources Centre.