The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has condemned the arrest and detention of the editor and a reporter of an online newspaper, TheNewsGuru.com, Mr Ediri Oyibo and Paul Utebor respectively, by the Nigeria Police Zone 7 Headquarters, Abuja.
Chairman of the Council, Emmanuel Ogbeche, in a statement described the arrest as unwarranted, absurd and unacceptable.
According to him, Oyibo and Utebor were invited for an interview with the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Zonal Criminal Investigation Department through a letter dated February 18, 2023 but were eventually detained on Wednesday February 22 upon arrival.
He said, “The police claimed in the letter that they were investigating a case of criminal conspiracy, defamation of character, giving false information and threat to life against the journalists over a story on the paternity of a child.
“The journalists were detained upon their arrival at the station at the instance of a petition written by Adaobi Alagwu that they published a story where a former Skye Bank chairman,Tunde Ayeni, debunked the alleged paternity of her child.
“The journalists, who have spent four days in detention under degrading conditions have also been denied administrative bail despite meeting the conditions when they were asked to provide a public servant not less than level 14 as surety.
“Surprisingly, upon meeting the bail conditions, on Friday, February 24, the police hurriedly in a commando style charged them to the FCT Chief Magistrate Court located at Wuse Zone 6 after they had got wind that the court would not be sitting. The situation that made the police continue keeping them in illegal custody.
“The Nigeria Union of Journalists demands the unconditional release of Mr. Ediri Oyibo and Paul Utebor as a matter of urgency while the police should follow due process in the discharge of its duties,” he added.