Delta APC group seeks release of detained journalist
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has been urged to intervene in securing the release of the publisher of Ughelli Times magazine, Prince Daniel Ekiugbo, who was whisked away from his private residence on October 25, 2016 by the Directorate of State Security Service (DSS).
The appeal, which is contained in a statement by the Directorate of Media and Publicity of Grassroots Mobilizers for Buhari (GMB) in South-South Nigeria and released by its director, Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, stated that while the DSS is saddled with the responsibility of cracking down on criminal elements perceived to threaten the unity and peace of the nation, the discharge of its functions must be swift and time conscious so as not to infringe on the fundamental rights of citizens under investigation by the service.
Oghenesivbe, who is also the convener of Rescue Delta Media Group (RDMG) of Delta All Progressives Congress (APC), further asserted that Prince Ekiugbo was alleged to have published certain offensive and libelous articles tending to paint the character of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, in a bad light as reported by Saraha Reporters, hence the suspect was arrested for questioning nearly three months ago.
The story, according to Oghenesivbe, took a different twist when the Delta State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), intervened prompting a protest visit by the NUJ led by its chairman, Comrade Nobert Chiazor, to the Asaba office of the DSS, where they were reliably informed that the Ughelli Times Magazine publisher also got his fingers soiled in other criminal activities linking him to certain criminal elements involved in militancy and pipeline vandalization in the Niger Delta.
The group noted that it is the law that certain offences against the Nigerian nation are not bailable but that the order for continuous detention must be issued by a court of competent jurisdiction, adding that in the case of Ekiugbo, the DSS has not been able to bring charges against the suspect to enable the court examine the alleged offences so as to determine whether or not Ekiugbo deserves bail.
“In the light of the above, the group is not comfortable with his continuous detention and therefore urged Lai Mohammed, the National President of the NUJ as well as the Director-General of the DSS to review Ekiugbo’s case and ensure that the rule of law prevails to stop the continued infringement on his fundamental rights to liberty, fair hearing and freedom of speech,” the statement added.