Premium Times has replied the police on false allegations levelled against its detained reporter, Samuel Ogundipe.
Mr Ogundipe has been arrested since Tuesday with the police insisting he disclose his source for a story.
The police in a statetement by its spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, on Thursday accused Mr Ogundipe of being in posession of classified document.
Mr Moshood added that Mr Ogundipe’s action was capable of capable of causing a breach of national security and a breakdown of law and order.
In its response, PREMIUM TIMES through its lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, said Mr Moshood’s statement was “misleading and prejudicial.”
Read Mr Ogunye’s full statement below.
We are counsel to Premium Times Services Ltd , owners and publishers of Premuum Times, the management and employees of Premium Times Newspaper, including Mr. Samuel Ogundipe, the Security Sector Corespondent of Premium Times who is under police incarceration.
Our attention has been drawn to the statement issued and statements made by ACP Jimoh regarding the unlawful arrest and illegal detention of Mr. Samuel Ogundipe by a the Nigeria Police Force under the directive of Mr. Ibrahim Idris , the Client Inspector General of Police .
In the said statements, ACP Jimoh claimed that Mr. Ogundipe was arrested, and is being “ investigated “ and “ prosecuted” for being in possession of a classified document; and that he has been arraigned in court within 24 hours of his arrest in accordance with the rule of law . He went on to allege that Mr. Ogundipe’ s action was capable of causing a breach of national security and a breakdown of law and order.
May we state that contrary to the misleading and prejudicial statements and assertions of ACP Jimoh, Mr. Samuel Ogundipe has not committed any offense known to law, even if it is admitted that his organization, Premium Times did publish the Interim Report dated 8th August , 2018 , on the barricade of the entrance to the National Assembly Complex by the operatives of the SSS ( DSS), issued by the IGP and submitted to the Acting President.
The Nigerian case law, foreign judicial authorities from countries of the common law tradition , and provisions of Nigerian statutes , including the grund norm, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999 , the FOI Act , 2011, and the Nigerian Press Council Act are unanimous in stating that generally , no journalist can be compelled to disclose the source of information for a published story, as the Police are forcing Samuel Ogundipe to do.
In the said statements, ACP Jimoh was deliberately mistaing the position of the law. Luckily, however, the law being mistated is the Nigerian law, and not the law of the Nigeria Police Force. And luckily, Nigeria is a democracy and not a police state .
Evidently, in the realization that the police, lawfully, cannot compel Samuel Ogundipe to disclose the source of his information, the police are now blackmailing our client by charging him with the offences of theft, trespass in a dwelling house ( as if the Force Headquarters is a dwelling house ) and being found in possession of a thing reasonably suspected to be stolen .
Our client sure has a solid defence to this charge , and need not , at this stage, engage in a needless arguments with the Police . However it suffices to categorically state that the burden of proof in a criminal action lies on the prosecution. The Nigerian people and the entire world will find it ridiculous that the Police, in spite of their capacity for mischief , could think of no charge than to laughably allege that our client broke into the Force Headquarters to steal a copy of the said Interim Report and that being in possession of a copy of that Report , he must explain how he got the document.
Our client had no duty to explain under the law .
May we end this response by calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria, in particular the Acting President to intervene and save Nigeria from further international embarrassment by the Nigeria Police Force.
The Federal Government owes Nigerians a duty to reign in the police. The Presidency cannot look on while the Police Force is operating like a colonial power without any regard to the due process of law, the rule of law and respects for the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights of journalists .