Nigeria – Firstnews Editor Released After Two Weeks in Military Custody

According to local news reports, armed men arrived at Olatunji’s residence a few minutes past 6:00 pm and forcefully took him away without any explanation. The journalists’ wife, who witnessed the abduction, said that Olatunji’s abductors searched for his phone and seized it immediately “before bundling him into a van like a common criminal. They refused to state his offence and where they were taking him,” according to the journalist’s wife.

The publisher of FirstNews, Daniel Iworiso Markson, said that during his detention, Olatunji apparently disappeared. “His phone line was switched off, nor did anyone speak to his family orthe Management of FirstNews to explain his whereabouts. If he was thought to have committed a crime relating to national security, Olatunji should have first been formally invited rather than this gestapo-style of arrest that reminds us of the dark days of the military era”.

The Management of FirstNews, wrote a letter to the Chief of Defence Staff, General Chris Musa on 21 March ‘demanding to know the whereabouts of its editor and appealing to the CDS to help them ascertain the exact location of Segun Olatunji’.

There are indications that Olatunji’s abduction might be linked to a story that was published by FirstNews titled ‘Revealed: Defence Chief running office like family business’.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said that the arrest of Olatunji was a brutal act of intimidation that appears designed to silence the media and journalists, particularly from reporting on corruption and other stories that are of interest to the public. “Olatunji did not commit any crime and his abduction is a direct attack on freedom of speech and a deliberate attempt to silence the media from exposing the truth. Such acts of banditry and repression cannot be allowed to happen in a democratic state as they run contrary to the principles of the rule of law and good governance”.

The IFJ calls on the Nigerian Government to take concrete action to guarantee the safety of journalists in Nigeria.

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