Kaduna (Nigeria) – The attention of the Africa Media Development Foundation has been drawn to the recent clamp down on the rights of journalists and bloggers to freedom of expression.
Latest of such is the arrest of Emenike Iroegbu, a blogger and publisher of Abia Facts Newspaper by suspected State Security Service operatives on Tuesday in Akwa Ibom, South-south Nigeria.
Ekaette Iroegbu who confirmed the arrest of her husband to the Premium Times said the officials came to their residence at about 12:30pm, searched the apartment and left with her husband, his laptop and phones. They also seized her two phones.
Premium Times quoted Inibehe Effiong, a Human Rights Lawyer who called media attention to the arrest saying: “It is on record that the Abia State-born blogger has been constantly harassed by the agents and officials of the Abia State Government over his publications, also some government officials in Akwa Ibom State have been uncomfortable with some of his publications online.”
While AMDF does not support disregard for fact checking and ethical standards of journalism it equally condemns in strong terms any attempt to muzzle freedom of information and expression.
Mr. Iroegbu’s arrest is coming barely a month after Abubakar Usman, a pro-government blogger was arrested and detained for nearly two days over a report critical of the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.
Between August 2015 and September 2016 a number of journalists and bloggers were arrested at different parts of Nigeria over their activities on the internet.
Among these are three bloggers, Desmond Ike, Seun Oloketuyi and Chris Nwandu who were in August 2015 arrested and charged for offences that allegedly contravened Cybercrime Act in Lagos. Emmanuel Ojo, was also arrested in Abeokuta for posting some “offensive” materials on Facebook.
In Kaduna state, a lecturer at the state university Dr. John Danfulani was arrested in January 2016 on the order of the state government for alleged inciting comments on Facebook. Also, arrested in May 2016, was Jacob Dickson an online reporter over a report on the Kaduna State Governor.
AMDF is worried about this trend against free speech and its resultant effect on sustaining Nigeria’s democracy and therefore calls on security agencies to desist from intimidating Nigerian journalists over their legitimate functions, as well as recognize freedom of expression as an important facet of democracy.
While AMDF calls for the release of Emenike Iroegbu, we also urge on media professionals, civil society and the citizenry at large to resist every attempt against free speech.