• Monday, May 20, 2024
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Abduction of a journalist: What a way to celebrate world press freedom day!

World Press Freedom Day

It is a sobering irony that, even as the global community recently celebrated International World Press Freedom Day, we find ourselves confronted with a stark reminder of the challenges facing journalists worldwide. Daniel Ojukwu, a courageous journalist affiliated with FIJ, remains unjustly detained, held incommunicado by the very institution entrusted with upholding justice and safeguarding the rights of citizens.

This brazen affront to press freedom serves as a poignant testament to the enduring struggle for accountability and transparency in our society. While taxpayers’ hard-earned money sustains the operations of law enforcement agencies, it is disheartening to witness such misuse of power, casting a pall over the fundamental principles of democracy.

As the echoes of press freedom resound globally, the plight of Daniel Ojukwu underscores the urgent need for unwavering solidarity in defence of journalistic integrity and the unyielding pursuit of truth.

Though this trend is not new, The police institution has always been used by members of the upper echelon to suppress press freedom and the will of the people. But it is more disturbing that the revelation is coming at a time when the Minister of Information and Orientation, Mohammed Idris, made a statement during the programme organised to mark International World Press Freedom Day that “no journalist has been hounded or incarcerated under Tinubu’s ministration.” It is becoming clearer that this is nothing but a reckless lie from the minister.

Let us assume without conceding that the journalist has violated any part of the media laws in Nigeria. The commando-style of arrest is most condemnable and must not be tolerated in a democracy. If at all the police institution has any case against him, why must he be abducted all because you want him to answer some questions? We must not be taken back to the ’80s, when press freedom was trampled upon.

Though Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), does not authorise the press to publish falsehoods, the same Constitution also frowns against subjecting Nigerians to inhuman treatment as enshrined under Section 34. The abduction and detention of Daniel Ojukwu by the IGP unit is most condemnable in a democracy. Probably the IGP is not aware that the Nigeria Police Force is a creation of an Act of Parliament; hence, their activities must be guided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

However, it is quite embarrassing that the Inspector General of Police, Egbetokun, who recently made a reckless statement against the establishment of state police, is naive of the protection the Nigerian Press enjoys as provided for in Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which has been domesticated by virtue of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Chapter 12, Laws of the Federation (LFN), 1990.

It is obvious the country’s police boss does not understand policing work. Who abducts journalists in a democracy if not a quack? There is even no basis for charging him to the law court again because his right to freedom of movement and dignity as a human being have already been trampled upon. In a working police department that should not be headed by an Egbetokun, the journalist should have been invited to shed light on an investigation being conducted, after which he might be charged to the law court (if need be) after the completion of the investigation.

Kazeem Olalekan Israel writes from Ibadan, Nigeria.