Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Services, DSS, has arrested and detained a radio worker in Imo State, Casmir Uzomah, for the past two months without trial.
Uzomah, a staff member of the Orient Radio-Television Station, which is managed by the Imo State Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), was reportedly arrested for playing a song considered “offensive” to the Governor of the state, Hope Uzodinma, via the station.
IBC is a media outfit owned by the State Government and Uzomah works in the technical department of the station.
Uzomah's wife, Onyinyechi, who spoke to the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), on the plight of her husband and degrading treatment he has been subjected since his arrest on August 4, appealed to Nigerians and international community to prevail on the government of Imo and DSS to free him.
“They should please free my husband. I am not working, and my children need to go to school. They said he played a song that was abusing the governor. I have not seen him since then,” Mrs Onyinyechi, a mother of five, said.
“My Sister-in-law called me on that day and told me that they have arrested my husband. She said I should take care of the children. Calls to his phone have not been going (through) since then,” she added, noting that her husband’s elder sister had gone to DSS office severally but wouldn't allow her to see him.
“They didn’t allow anybody to see him,” she said.
Chidi Uzomah, an elder brother of the detained radio worker, said his brother was still in the DSS’ custody and that he was unsure when he would be released.
“Casmir is still in the DSS facility. He was invited by DSS on 4 August 2022, after a query was issued to him by the Imo State Commissioner of Information, Declan Emelumba.
“Since then, he has been detained by DSS, and all efforts to release him have not worked,” ICIR quoted him to have said.
Chidi had written to the Commissioner Information, and copied HRH Eze Okeke Eze, copied (head) of ministry of information, copied DG IBC and equally met with the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Diocese, His Grace Lucius Ugorji to intervene and talk with the governor, "yet no way."
“I wrote to the director of DSS, the letter of which was submitted on Monday, 3 October 2022. Our lawyer (equally) wrote for bail earlier in August when he was arrested. Yet no response,” he said.
The President of the Association of Imo State Radio and Television Presenters, Jerry Osuji, said the association was working hard to get the journalist released.
“I have spoken to the DG IBC. He assured me that he wants to know how such a song got to the station,” he said.
Osuji, who also works at the same station with Uzomah, said that he had mobilised workers in the station to visit the DSS office to see the detained radio worker, but was unable to see him.
The information commissioner in Imo, Emelumba, said the song played by Mr Uzomah that led to his detention by the DSS was “very offensive and defamatory."
“I was told that he played a song on IBC which was very offensive, calling the governor a murderer.
“This man actually played a song that says the governor is a murderer and that blood is flowing in his hand. Even the NBC queried the IBC for playing such a song,” he claimed.
“I am not responsible for his arrest in any way; I was told he brought the song from outside and played it on the radio station. What is his motive for doing that?”
The commissioner claimed the state government had nothing to do with his arrest.
The Director of SSS in Imo, Wilcox Idaminabo, who promised to respond to enquiries on the arrest on Wednesday, had yet to do so as of Saturday evening.