​Nigeria’s secret police accuse Reuters ​journalist of spying

SSS Officials

A reporter with Reuters News Agency, Tife Owolabi, taken in for questioning by operatives of the Department of State Security Service in Yenagoa,​ has been freed.

Mr. Owolabi, who confirmed his release on Monday, said his personal computer, tablet device, cameras and external hard drives and memory cards remained in the custody of the DSS.

​He was freed Saturday.​

​The ​​​Nigerian ​government ​had been ​accused of trying to restrict the ​​international media from covering the​ 2015​ general elections by refusing to issue visas and accreditation.

Mr. Owolabi ​said​ his ordeal ​at​ the hands of the security services had to do with his work for the foreign media platform.

“They came to my place and searched the apartment and carted away my work tools including my mobile phones and detained me and said that they had suspicion that I was engaged in espionage for foreign concerns.

“I had no fears because I was sure I had not done anything in the discharge of my duties as a journalist. They said I was unpatriotic and held on to my working tools.

“I am hoping that they will release those items when I return to their office later today. I express my gratitude to fellow journalists who stood by me and I guess it is one of the hazards of the job,” Mr. Owolabi said.

When contacted on the development, a top official of the Bayelsa Command of DSS, who declined to be named, dismissed the charges of espionage levelled against the reporter.

“I am not aware of his arrest because I am not the one handling the matter and moreover I am not authorized to speak on operations. But I can tell you that if he is accused of espionage, he should not be handled at the state command level,” the official said.


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