In Unison, Editors Rise against Abduction of Journalists

The widespread condemnation of the spate of abduction of journalists in the country by security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police Force by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) is highly commendable.

Lately, the police and other agencies, under the guise of enforcing the Cyber Security Act, have abducted and detained a number of journalists instead deploying their arsenal to fight the terrorists and bandits decimating the country.

The consequence of such illegal actions on press freedom as enshrined in Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution, is frightening.

When the Cyber Security Act was enacted, it was believed to be a legal framework for combating cybercrimes but the police and the Nigerian Army have suddenly turned it to a legal instrument for persecuting journalists, who are performing their legitimate duties in a democracy.

The NGE, a professional body of media executives and senior editors, had in a recent statement by its President, Mr. Eze Anaba, and the General Secretary, Dr. Iyobosa Uwugiaren, condemned the method of abduction/arrest of journalists in recent months.

In the statement which was issued at the end of their Standing Committee meeting in Port Harcourt, they also kicked against the long detention and inhuman treatment they are subjected to, and said it was a negation of a democratic space.

In any case, what is Cyber Security Act anyway?  How come it is only journalists that are often arrested? Was the law enacted specifically for journalists? Why is it that any story published to interrogate a politician is seen as cyber stalking? How come the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), is silent on this issue?

Press freedom is the ability of the media to report news and express opinion without government interference, censorship, or retribution. It is a fundamental human right essential for a healthy democracy, allowing citizens to access accurate information, hold leaders accountable, and participate in informed public discourse. Where a journalist runs foul of the law, it is certainly not abduction or illegal detention but should be charged to court.

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