HURIWA Urges Army to Release Detained Journalist, Segun Olatunji

Alex Enumah in Abuja 

A civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has demanded the immediate release of the Editor of FirstNews online newspaper, Mr. Segun Olatunji.

Olatunji was said to have been abducted by armed goons allegedly decked in Army uniforms weekend. 

HURIWA, in a statement specifically called on the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Gwabin Musa, or the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, to release forthwith or state publicly why Olatunji is being held.

The group expressed worry that once again, Nigeria has returned to the dreaded days of the late General Sani Abacha type of media repression and the abductions of media practitioners.

Meanwhile, HURIWA has carpeted political office holders at the highest levels of government in Nigeria of displaying total aversion to media freedoms and are in mortal apprehension of the populace coming up to demand accountability from them. 

Besides, HURIWA has asked the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, to speak and work vigorously to get public office holders to operate by the principles of the rule of law and to obey the provisions of Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which encompassed sections obliging the government to enforce the fundamental media and information freedoms. 

“The current information minister unlike his predecessor, who is not a professional journalist, is a member of the Nigerian media and indeed one of the most reputable media owners. He should and must defend media freedoms and the right of the media practitioners to practise their profession in line with the provisions of the constitution and to uphold the obligations of public office holders to uphold the principle of accountability because the media, as the fourth estate of the realm, is the conscience of the nation and should be allowed to play these roles stipulated by Section 22 of the Nigerian constitution,” National Coordinator of the group, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said.

Onwubiko described the circumstances surrounding the surreptitious kidnapping of a reputable journalist in the person of the editor of the FirstNews online newspaper, Olatunji, when it is obvious that the gentleman is one of the finest of the journalism profession who is very observant of the ethics of the journalism profession and has been known both in Abuja and Kaduna to have showed greater passion for objective, balanced and standard ethical journalism devoid of hearsay, innuendos or rumours. 

HURIWA is therefore calling on the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Army Staff to immediately order the investigation of the circumstances that led soldiers to allegedly kidnap a media practitioner without even informing his wife or granting him the fair hearing of extending a lawful invitation to any office that he has now being driven to secretly.

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