The detained Premium Times reporter, Samuel Ogundipe, was again quizzed Wednesday morning by the police over the source of a report he wrote leading to his arrest by police operatives on Tuesday.
A source at the headquarter of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) where Mr Ogundipe is being detained said the journalist was locked up in the same cell with hardened suspects overnight. He was quizzed by a deputy commissioner of police, Sani Ahmadu, between 8.30 and 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
According to the source, Mr Ahmadu, who initially tried compelling the reporter to disclose his source later softpedalled by requesting that he indicate if his source is a member of the police or the presidency, both of whom had access to the documents mentioned in the report he wrote.
However, Mr Ogundipe was said to have declined narrowing down the source of the document. He reportedly said he would not divulge the source or the location citing ethical and professional considerations.
Mr Ahmadu was said to have then insisted that Mr Ogundipe either yields to the police demands or remains in police custody.
It is not yet clear if Mr Ogundipe was subjected to torture at the SARS facility which is notorious for the brutalising suspects in its custody.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday ordered for the review of the operations of the unit which has been accused of gross human rights abuses in recent months leading to call for its scrap by Nigerians.
The police, through SARS. on Tuesday arrested and detained Mr Ogundipe, who covers the security sector for PREMIUM TIMES.
Apart from Mr Ogundipe, this newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Musikilu Mojeed, and its education correspondent, Azeezat Adedigba, were also briefly detained and manhandled by the police at the SARS headquarters in Abuja.
Ms Adedigba was later released after over three hours of detention.
Messrs Mojeed and Ogundipe were driven from the SARS headquarters in Abuja to the IGP Monitoring Unit at Force Headquarters where Mr Ogundipe was made to write a statement.
At the Force headquarters, Mr Ahmadu, was heard directing lawyers to “rush to court” to obtain a warrant to detain Mr Ogundipe.
Mr Mojeed, thereafter, asked Mr Ahmadu if he was aware that asking a journalist to reveal his source of a story, is an embarrassment to Nigeria as global journalism standards dissuades such.
“I don’t care if I embarrass Nigeria or not. I have the right to keep him here and I will keep him until he reveals his source,” was the response the DCP gave.
Officials at the police headquarters told PREMIUM TIMES that the directive to detain the journalist came directly from the Inspector General of Police who is said to be angry at this newspaper’s critical reporting of his activities.
Local and international rights groups, activists, lawyers and other Nigerians have called for the unconditional and immediate release of the reporter who is still in detention.