Groups Condemn Arrest of NewDigest Editor, Webmaster over Report on Ex-CBN Chief’s Factory
Following the arrest of Gidado Yusahu, the Editor of NewsDigest news platform; an Abuja based media and his webmaster, Mr. Adebowale Adekoya by operatives of the Kwara State Criminal Investigation Department Operatives, several groups have condemned the action and demanded the release of the journalists.
fficers, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, and National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN have both demanded for their immediate release.
HURIWA Demands Immediate Release of Young Journalists
The Executive Chairman and National Coordinator HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said that the action of the police is an act of abduction of a legitimate journalist for doing his job as enshrined by the constitution to be accountable and serve as vanguards of the society.
“We absolutely and totally condemn the act arbitrariness being displayed by the police in exercising and adopting this style in apprehending the journalist. We can say that they style they abducted is an act of abduction of legitimate journalist only for doing a national duty. As such, the action of the police is a clear violation of section 22 of the 1999 federal constitution”
“So, for a journalist to be picked up by police for writing a story almost a year ago concerning a powerful woman in the society, you now send police all the way from Kwara state to apprehend the editor in Abuja and the webmaster in Lagos. This is an act of state sponsored torture which is absolutely prohibited by Section 4 of the constitution which requires that citizen must be treated with dignity”
Onwubiko, however, berated the manner at which the duo were whisked away, saying “The action of the police might give motivation to commercial kidnappers because if a police officer can walk into someone’s premises and bundle a person, it will in turn create lawlessness in the society.”
“If the police need a journalist to give clarification on certain issue, he should be issued correspondence via a notification to the newsroom where the newsroom will in turn release the journalist. If there is a need for prosecution, then they go to court by giving him his right to a legal counsel as he is constitutionally entitled to fair hearing” he emphasized.
Youth Council President Expresses Displeasure
The President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Mr. Bello Shagari also expressed displeasure over the ensued scenario and believed it is purely unprofessional.
“The manner in which the young journalist was reported to have been apprehended in a sting operation is unprofessional and unnecessary. Mr. Gidado and Adekoya are reputable journalist and webmaster respectively who respects the rule of law and therefore, an invitation would have been enough if it was necessary to investigate him on anything,” he said.
“The young Nigerians who were allegedly arrested because of exposing criminality especially on drugs, a problem which the government of president Muhammadu Buhari prioritize. Mr. Gidado Yushau and other journalists deserve accolades for helping the fight against drug use no matter who may be involved.
“We therefore demand the immediate release of Mr. Gidado Shuaib and other staff of NewsDigest before the Nigerian youth and students resort into mass action against Kwara State Police Command” he vowed.
MAMA Centre condemns groundless arrest of NewsDigest’s Editor, demands Press Freedom
The Mothers And Marginalised Advocacy Centre (MAMA Centre) has also condemned condemns in all strong terms, the undemocratic action of the Nigerian Police Force that metamorphosed in unjustified arrest of the NewsDigest’s Editor, Gidado Shuaib and Professional Webmaster for the NewsDigest, Adebowale Adekoya through the Kwara State Police Command over an investigative report published by the platform on the normalised abuses of Illicit drug (Indian Hemp) at a Hillcrest Agro-allied Industry based in Ilorin, Kwara State.
In its statement signed by its Executive Director, Barrister Ola E. Onyegbula, MAMA Centre said:
“We are perturbed by the disproportionate response by the Police, portraying its apparent support for illicit and harmful drug abuse, instead of constituting a major Force combating such through a constructive independent investigation to arrest and punish offenders, as contains in the published report.
“While we are not unaware of the fundamental principles of Press Freedom that communication and expression through various media, including printed and electronic media, especially published materials, should be considered a right to be exercised freely, we find the ongoing crackdown on the journalists worrisome and totally condemnable.
“We are worried that continued arrest and illegal detention of journalists would only backpedal Nigeria’s democratic gains and sabotage our image before the international community, while invalidating Government of Nigeria’s global, continental, regional and national commitments to secure nation’s democracy and citizens’ rights.
“We demand immediate release of the unlawfully arrested journalists by the Police to ensure equity and fairness, while re-affirming the Force’s pledge to secure and protect the citizens’ rights.
“We call on the Inspector General of Police to ensure justice in the process by re-opening special and constructive investigation into the reported case of illegal harmful drug abuses in the facility to ensure offenders are apprehended and prosecuted in accordance with the provisions of the law. “
Mr. Gidado was arrested in Abuja on Tuesday night, the 29 of October for publishing an investigative report published on the 18th of May 2018 which was authored by Mr. Alfred Olufemi, an award-winning campus journalist from one of the premier Universities in the country.
The report is titled: Inside Kwara factory where Indian Hemp smoking is ‘legalized’ and the factory, Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industry based in Ilorin is said to be owned by Former acting CBN Governor, Mrs. Sarah Alade.