A newspaper publisher, Nsibiet John, has been arrested in Akwa Ibom State for allegedly publishing defamatory materials against the deputy governor of the state, Moses Ekpo.
The Chairman, League of Newspaper Publishers in the state, Ernest Akpan, told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. John who publishes a local newspaper, The Ink, was arrested on Thursday morning by police detectives from the State Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia.
Mr. Akpan, in a press statement, alleged that the publisher was arrested on the orders of the state deputy governor, Mr. Ekpo.
He said the arrest was “shocking, unacceptable, and unfortunate.”
Mr. Akpan said the deputy governor did not explore “other channels of conflict-resolution” before lodging a complaint with the police against the publisher.
He added that the press in the state would continue to function as a watchdog of the society, no matter the situation.
“A situation where journalists are treated as enemies or prisoners of war and game to be preyed on, during the discharge of their duties, is unacceptable to the League,” Mr. Akpan said.
He called on the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, to step into the matter and ensure that the detained publisher was release.
“We wish to state unequivocally here that failure to secure his release will attract very unpleasant consequences.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Akwa Ibom State Council, Patrick Albert, led a delegation of the union and some journalists in the state to the police headquarters, where he met with the Commissioner of Police, Murtala Mani, over the issue.
“They are yet to tell us what offence they say he committed,” Mr. Albert told PREMIUM TIMES on telephone, Thursday evening. “But we have the assurance of the police commissioner that he will be released today.”
By 4p.m., the publisher was still not released. The NUJ chairman and other journalists were still hanging around at the police headquarters.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the deputy governor’s spokesman, Ekikere Umoh, he declined to comment on the issue which he said was purely a “police matter”.
The Police spokesperson in the state, Cordelia Nwawe, did not respond to calls and text message from our reporter.