Access to Justice denounces harassment of journalists
Access to Justice has denounced the arrest and harassment of Premium Times publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi, alongside its judiciary correspondent, Evelyn Okakwu by the Nigerian Police as well as the raid on the newspaper offices, on January 19, 2017.
The group said the harassment of the media is a throwback to the dark days of military autocracy when press freedoms were constant victims and casualties of military repression and dictatorship.
“More than 18 years after the transition to civil rule in Nigeria, the country should be done with the repression of free speech. Unfortunately, police and military authorities still act with intentional disregard for democratic freedoms and civil liberties.
“The right of expression, and the operation of a medium of communication and dissemination of information is a guaranteed constitutional right. The harassment of persons who exercise these freedoms is a direct assault on the Constitution of this country, and substantially undermines a strong pillar of democratic government,” said Joseph Otteh, the Executive Director of the group in a statement.
According to him, Nigeria police should not use, or lend its powers to be used, to intimidate those engaged in providing critical information to the Nigerian people; neither should it obstruct the free communication of information or exchange of ideas in a democratic country.
The media, he said, has a uniquely significant role in keeping those who exercise power accountable for their actions or omissions. “That role must be supported and defended and the channel of communication through which information reaches the people must be kept clear, and unobstructed.
“Access to Justice welcomes the release of those arrested, but demands that the Buhari government ends this gratuitous interference with the freedom of the Press,”he declared.