10 Nigerian journalists, others still in detention 5 days after arrest

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The Nigerian Army and the State Security Service are yet to release 10 journalists and officials of a media organisation arrested five days ago at a hotel in Benin, their editor said.

Taiye Garrick, publisher and editor of Watchdog News, said his staff were also denied access to their lawyers.

Tony Abulu (Production Manager), Richard Hasley (Reporter), Opara Uche (Reporter), Handy Romeo Eze (Reporter), Kelvin Toryila (Video Editor), Lanre Ogunleye (IT associate), Balogun Ehigie (IT ), Kenneth Danpome (Head, IT), Mathew (Logistics Manager) and Joe Epi (Driver) were arrested at a hotel in Benin on September 21.img_3401-resized-800

The soldiers, in a joint operation with SSS operatives, carried out the arrests at Douban Hotel in Benin, the Edo State capital.

They were in Benin to carry out a survey of voters and report on early preparations of INEC and other stakeholders ahead of the gubernatorial election holding there on September 28, Mr. Garrick told PREMIUM TIMES.

The Army in a statement the following day said the journalists were arrested based on “credible security reports.”

The Army denied brutalising them.

img_20160925_132628-resized-800In the statement, signed by its spokesman, Sani Usman, the Army said the reporters were caught with “quite a number of incriminating items including INEC sensitive materials.”

Neither the Army nor the SSS has explained why the reporters have not been charged to court despite still being in detention.

But Mr. Garrick emailed pictures to PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday showing his staff in their office in Abuja and on the field in Benin before their arrest.

One of the staff, Kelvin Toryila could be seen working in the Watchdog News offices in Abuja; and recently while on a field assignment in Benin.

Mr. Garrick said Mr. Toryila and his colleagues remained confined at the SSS field office in Benin as at Saturday evening .img_20160925_132512-resized-800

He said he has been receiving threat calls and invitation from anonymous persons asking him to report at the SSS office in Abuja or elsewhere.

The Army spokesperson, Mr. Sani, did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments Saturday.

The Nigerian government has intensified clampdown on journalists in the past year. This has seen over a dozen reporters and bloggers arrested and brutalised.

A blogger, Jamil Mabai, is still in detention after he was arrested last Monday for a blog post criticising Katsina State government’s expenses.


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  • Tunde Akin-Thomas (Lagos)

    WITHOUT PREMIUM TIMES, NIGERIA WILL BE VOID; AND, WITHOUT SHAPE OR FORM.

    THERE’S NO BETTER HONED INTELLECTUAL INSTITUTION LEFT THAN PREMIUM TIMES.

    • Cornelius Ochei

      What are
      you praising Premium Times for? Have the journalists working there removed
      their Hijab? Let them remove their Hijab first of all before we can thereafter say
      anything good about them. So long as they insist they must all wear Hijab there
      from morning till night, and, even make it compulsory for all members of staff
      including their gate-man, we can never call Premium Times good intellectuals.

      • ed

        Premiumtimesng has a requirement that forced the employees to wear Hijab?.
        Premiumtimesng please clear the polution.

  • ed

    This is a very seriously troubling development under the failed leadership of the Islmic Jihardist President Buhari. Tyrant always spend money and brutal force to suppress the media and the people.
    President Buhari is simply showing his true colours.
    He’ll fail, the new age multiple sources and millions of voices will prevail at the end.

  • Wetin Naija

    This is the CHANGE YOU VOTED FOR. So press freedom is finally dead in Nigeria and the corrupt judiciary is afraid to do its duty. Is this the fight against corruption, by suppressing and terrorizing the press?

  • Zeta bright

    Nigeria my country where the truth is kept in chains.

  • Don Corleone

    We can never have real democracy without a free and unbiased press that can without fear or favour tell it as it is…..our marauding felons disguised in political cloaks will never let that happen…

    Why are you scared if you ain’t guilty…its high time Nigerians start crying out loud for a free press…

    You spend money on coffins while people are grappling with hunger and salary arrears owed them…someone blows the whistle,you arrest him.

    Journalist travel to cover elections,you arrest them…what are you scared of? WHEN WIND BLOW FOWL NYANSH MUST OPEN AND YOU GUYS CANT STOP THE COMING WIND BY ARRESTING LAW ABIDING NIGERIANS.

    ADVICE: IF YOU DEY FEAR PRISON, NO GO THIEF….IF YOU CANT DO THE TIME DON’T DO THE CRIME VAGABONDS IN POWER!

  • Lanre

    This is Buhari in action for you. Just as he used Rafindadi in 1984-1985, today it is Daura. How many journalists did Jonathan harass? We all know Obasanjo was a brute. Again, Tinubu and his fellow co-travelers have a lot of responsibility to bear on this disaster currently governing Nigeria.