Paul Obi in Abuja
The Nigerian National Committee of the International Press Institute (IPI) has expressed deep concerns over the continued detention of the Abuja Bureau Chief of Daily Independent Newspaper, Mr. Tony Ezimako, by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
In a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday and signed by its Secretary, Raheem Adedoyin, the institute said Ezimako was arrested last Wednesday for undisclosed reasons and has been in detention since then.
“Ezimako should be released or charged to court if he has violated any Nigeria law. The government must adhere to the due process at all times.
“We join the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other professional bodies to call on the government to clarify the status of the detained journalist,” it added.
Meanwhile, as campaign to free Ezimakor, a journalist with Daily Independent Newspaper, Abuja, intensify, a group, OurMumuDonDo, is to stage a protest tomorrow at the headquarters of the Department of State Service (DSS) in Abuja.
In a statement signed by Charles Oputa, OurMumuDonDo; Deji Adeyanju, Concerned Nigerians, Ariyo Dare Atoye, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy, Bako Abdul Usman, Campaign For Democracy; the groups said it was unconstitutional for the DSS to keep Ezimakor in its detention facility against his will.
They said: “Following the continued detention of Ezimakor by the DSS, and the continued disregard for his rights to freedom of speech, right to dignity of the human person, and right to fair hearing as guaranteed by the Constitution, we have decided to occupy the DSS Headquarters in Maitama by 9a.m. onMarch 7, 2018.
“The decision to occupy the DSS office was made in a bid to prevent Ezimakor from suffering the same fate as Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who has been detained illegally at the DSS facility for more than two years.
“We re-emphasise our demand for the unconditional release of Ezimakor by the DSS.”
They maintained that: “In the alternative, we demand that the federal government charge him to court as stipulated in the constitution and give him the opportunity to defend himself.
“We urge all members of the local and international media to attend this peaceful protest aimed at drawing attention to the increasing incidents of unlawful harassment of the press and the unlawful detention of Nigerian citizens in violation of their constitutional rights by the present administration.
“We also invite all peace-loving Nigerians who are interested in preserving and protecting our democracy to join us on Wednesday.”
All efforts to speak with DSS officials on Ezimakor’s arrest were not fruitful as they were not available for comments.