CLO, NUJ, NAWOJ, others condemn arrest, detention of female journalist in Akwa Ibom
The Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) have jointly condemned the unlawful arrest and detention of a female journalist, Mary Ekere, by Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency (AKSEPAWMA).
They described such action by the agents of the board unlawful, overzealous and callous.
Ekere, a journalist with the Post Newspaper, a local tabloid in the state, was arrested and stripped naked on Monday, September 16, 2019 by taskforce officials working for the Chairman of the agency, Prince Akpan Ikim, for taking pictures of the agency’s task force operators while seizing traders’ property at Ibom Plaza and Ikot Ekpene Road in the city.
According to the reports, the journalist was beaten and dragged into a waiting vehicle and later taken to the agency’s office where she was later taken and remanded in prison custody because the magistrate of the sanitation court was not around.
Chairman of the CLO in the state, Mr. Franklyn Isong, said it was unlawful and criminal for the agency to order the arrest of the journalist who was carrying out her duties as a reporter.
He demanded for an apology from the agency to the reporter and the NUJ in the state.
He said: “It is criminal and unlawful for the Akwa Ibom State agency to order arrest of the journalist who was carrying out her duties. We condemn it and we demand a written apology from the agency to the reporter in question and the entire body of the NUJ in the state.”
The NUJ Chairman in the state, Amos Etuk, in a statement in Uyo, expressed shock that Ekere was sent back to prison even after the presiding judge had granted her bail, and the father met the bail terms.
“It is shocking that Ekere was taken back again to prison custody after her bail conditions have been met,” Etuk said.
According to the NAWOJ Chairman in the state, Uduak Ekong, “We will work with our parent body (NUJ) to ensure that we follow up with legal actions to stop any further harassment and intimidation of our members by any government or private agency in the state.”
Ekong, who condemned the act, said she had called out her members in a peaceful protest this morning to register their grievances.
She expressed shock that the journalist was forced to spend two nights in the prison custody even after meeting the bail term and called for an unreserved apology to the accused.
In his reaction, Chairman of the Federated Chapel where the victim belongs, Mr. Inimfon Silas, condemned the act, saying that the arrest of the journalist was an indication that journalists in the state were no longer safe to carry out their lawful duties.
Meanwhile, all phone calls and text massages to Ikim were to no avail and did not reply to the text messages sent to him as at the time of filing this report.