Why SSS detained me for weeks – Nigerian journalist

SSS Officials (Photo Credit: Guardian Nigeria)
SSS Officials (Photo Credit: Guardian Nigeria)

Oriyomi Hamzat, has spoken on the reason why he fled to Ghana after he was released from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), where he was detained for weeks.

PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Hamzat, who owns Agidigbo radio station in Ibadan, was detained at the SSS office in Ibadan on August 1 before he was transferred to the Abuja office of the agency.

The general manager of Agidigbo radio station, Ismail Idowu, said the SSS officers visited the radio station on July 31, demanding to see Mr Hamzat for interrogation.

“We’ve been running our programmes and exposing the atrocities committed by the state government until the time he was arrested,” the manager said.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that Mr Hamzat was arrested over the receipt of a petition against one of the radio programmes he runs on social media, by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation.

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The wife of the broadcaster, Motunrayo Hamzat, confirmed the release of her husband to PREMIUM TIMES. She noted that Mr Hamzat had gone into hiding after his release.

Meanwhile, the journalist has spoken on why he fled to Ghana after his release via a post on his website oriyomihamzat.com.

Mr Hamzat disclosed that he ran away to Ghana in order to save his life.

“I ran away to Ghana. I fled to Ghana to run for my life. I ran not necessarily because I was scared of dying but because I imagine what would become the fate of so many people including the kids I was picking from the streets if I did not flee to Ghana.”

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Mr Hamzat explained that he was arrested for hosting separately and jointly groups of retired primary school teachers, whose pension and gratuity “remained hanged up in the hands of those who are supposed to pay them”.

“Every time when they come to me, I feel the pain and the pity of these people. I feel the fact that some of them have kids who look up to them. I feel the pang that they are still responsible to their families, friends and relatives. And more than that, they have responsibilities towards themselves.

“Some of them started businesses before leaving service with the hope of falling back to such business when they retire eventually while they further fund it with their pensions. Today, those businesses have ceased to exist because the pensions and gratuities which they are expecting weren’t flowing in. Eventually, they are left with nothing.”

He said while this was going, groups of lecturers of colleges of education in Oyo State were also reaching out to him over their unpaid salary arrears.

“I presented their case based not just on their complaint but also after in-depth investigation into the matter. I conducted the investigation both covertly and overtly, directly and by proxy, gather facts and inferences even when these concerned people do not know about it. I did not go on air to discuss their plight until I was fully satisfied that they were right,” he added.

He adds: “However, what happened after I presented the plight of the primary school teachers and the college of education lecturers wasn’t what I expected.”

He said he was surprised at the extent “some people can go in order to cover up the obvious, trample on the truth and silence the voice calling for justice and fair treatment which led to his arrest.”.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how journalists across Nigeria protested against harassment and victimisation of their members by security agents.

The journalists’ union, NUJ, called for a proper implementation of the right to freedom of expression, opinion and that of the press.

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