Nigerian blogger regains freedom after two days in police detention

Mr Utitofon Ukpong, in the middle (on a blue wear), shortly after he was geanted bail by the court in Uyo
Mr Utitofon Ukpong, in the middle (on a blue wear), shortly after he was geanted bail by the court in Uyo

Utitofon Ukpong, a blogger in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s South-south, was on Wednesday released on bail at a magistrate court in Uyo after spending two days in police detention.

Mr Ukpong publishes a popular blog, Sitippe Ke Akwa Ibom, which focuses on the happenings around Akwa Ibom state.

He was arrested on Monday and detained at the police headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, for allegedly publishing defamatory materials against a senator and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, his lawyers told PREMIUM TIMES.

He was granted bail in the sum of N10 million and two sureties in like sum showing evidence of ownership of property within the jurisdiction of the court, after the Chief Magistrate, Effiong Effiong, listened to the charge and the arguments from the prosecution and the defence counsels.

The case was adjourned to December 21 for trial.

Lawyers to the blogger told PREMIUM TIMES his arrest was a case of mistaken identity.

“Instead of letting him go with apologies, the police detained him while a fresh petition was quickly authored against him,” Ewa Okpo Edmund, one of the lawyers to the blogger, said.

Mr Edmund said the blogger was arraigned after much pressure was exerted on the police by his lawyers and the press community in Akwa Ibom.

“I cannot be intimidated or blackmailed. Whatever a man sows, that shall he reap,” Mr Ukpong wrote on Facebook, shortly after regaining his freedom.

The blogger was represented in court by Abasiodiong Ekpenyong, Toyo Jimmy, Ekanem Morgan, Ewa Okpo Edmund, and Ini Emembong, who is a lawyer, as well as the spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom.

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