IPC calls for halt to harassment of media practitioners
The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos has described the invasion of the premises of Premium Times in Abuja and the subsequent arrest of its publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi and its judiciary correspondent, Evelyn Okakwu, by armed police men on the night of January 19, 2017, as an unacceptable assault on the freedom of the press.
Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said in a statement last Friday that the attacks, as well as the harassment of other journalists in recent times are completely antithetical to democratic values and norms at the core of which are the rights to free speech and media freedom.
“Any government that makes the press its enemy will invariably turn to be the enemy of the people as was recently the case in The Gambia, where Yaya Jammeh was rejected by the people due to his constant attacks on the press among other human rights violations,” Arogundade warned.
According to the IPC director, the police should not allow itself to be used to settle scores by vested interests, in this case the army authorities, which have already made public its disagreement with Premium Times over certain publications by the media outlet pertaining to the office of the Chief of Army Staff.
“The police should, however, make public its reasons for the raid on Premium Times and the arrest of Olorunyomi and Okakwu if they believe that it is not connected with the dispute with the army authorities,” he said.
Arogundade advised the army authorities to seek legal redress or make use of the instrumentality of the media regulatory agencies should they be convinced that there had been professional misconduct on the part of Premium Times and its editors or any other media organisation rather than resort to legal arm-twisting of the press.
He, however, said that the organisation welcomes the fact that the police promptly released the arrested publisher and reporter following public outcry, adding that recent developments have made it imperative to have a national stakeholders’ dialogue involving media institutions, the security and law enforcement agencies, the media regulatory agencies and so on, to discuss measures for safeguarding press freedom and the sustenance of democratic values.