Invoking the Wrath of Journalists

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Ogundipe

The operatives of the State Security Service, recently invoked the wrath of Nigerian journalists when they arrested and detained Iheanacho Nwosu, a deputy editor with The Sun newspaper, on Wednesday, April 9

|  By Olu Ojewale  |  Apr. 21, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

NO one saw it coming, but the arrest of Iheanacho Nwosu, a deputy editor with The Sun newspaper, caused a lot of disquiet at the ongoing national conference on Wednesday, April 9. Nwosu, who was accredited to cover the conference, whisked away from the venue by operatives of the State Security Service, SSS, that day for publishing a story of a fisticuff between its agents and some policemen attached to the conference, which appeared in the newspaper that day.

The arrest prompted journalists covering the conference to besiege the area where he was taken after the arrest. The journalist also threatened to boycott proceedings as they expressed fears that if the act of impunity was not checked, the SSS operatives and other security agents at the conference would continue to unleash terror on them. Taking a cue from the development, delegates tabled the matter before the conference, thereby attracting condemnation. Niyi Akintola, a delegate, who raised a point of order when plenary resumed after break time, warned that in a democratic dispensation, it was wrong for security operatives to infringe on the rights of a journalist carrying out his constitutional responsibilities.

While accusing the security agents of being overzealous, Akintola warned that the era of abuse of human rights should not be re-enacted. His submission was supported by other delegates who condemned the action of SSS operatives and warned security operatives to allow journalists to perform their duty unhindered. Bolaji Adeyemi, a professor of international law and deputy chairman of the conference, who presided over the session, urged security agencies to always endeavour to respect the rights of journalists to do their constitutional duties.

Lanre Ogundipe, a delegate and a former national president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, on his part, challenged the operatives for detaining Nwosu and warned them to stop further assault on the press. Ogundipe, who bared his mind to the operatives at their post by the door of the plenary chamber, said the media had suffered enough in the hands of security agents in the country. “I am angry and I want to warn that I have serious interest in the way you treat journalists in this country. We own this country and it does not belong to any single individual or group and so people should be respected,” he said.

Nwosu was picked up a few minutes after 12:00 p.m. from the conference hall on Wednesday, April 9, and taken to their office located within the National Judicial Institute, NJI, venue of the conference, and detained for more than 30 minutes before he was eventually released after some journalists besieged the area. Ironically, the security agency could not fault authenticity of Nwosu’s report which appeared in The Sun newspaper of that Wednesday, but the operatives said they were embarrassed by its content because they were queried by their superiors and the Presidency over the ugly incidence which was the basis of the report.

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