Armed men thought to be state agents arrested Jones Abiri, a Nigerian journalist, previously detained for more than two years, at a meeting with colleagues on Saturday, witnesses and watchdog groups told AFP.Two DSS (State Security Service) vehicles stormed the office of the Bayelsa Federated Newspaper Publishers’ Association in Yenagoa in Nigeria’s southern Bayelsa state around lunchtime, as Abiri was in a meeting with six colleagues, the association’s secretary general Eric Eweke told AFP. They “threatened that if he tried to run, they would shoot at him,” said Eweke.
Another witness, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said: “The men jumped out of the vehicles while he (Abiri) was chatting with his friends and shouted at him that he was under arrest.”While he was demanding to know his offence, he was forcefully pushed into a waiting vehicle at gunpoint”. DSS spokesman Peter Afunanya told local press “I don’t have any information” on the incident. Abiri was eventually released on Monday afternoon from the secret police’s detention facility in Abuja.
Abiri was previously detained by intelligence officers for two years without trial over alleged links to rebels in the Niger Delta in the country’s southeast and threats to oil companies.He had no access to a lawyer or his family during this time, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).He was freed in August last year following a campaign by rights organisations.
Society would not be progressive without the freedom of the press. The attack on journalists in recent times is demeaning of the society we live in. Journalists are often threatened, subjected to physical violence, or denied access to information by government officials, police, and sometimes the public itself. Democratic practices would only thrive, when members of the public are free from such harassments and threats.