The family of Kufre Carter, a sports reporter detained in the facility of the State Security Service (SSS), Akwa Ibom state, has been prevented from seeing him, his lawyer has said.
Mr Carter, a sports reporter with a local radio station, XL 106.9 FM, Uyo, was arrested by the SSS on April 27 and charged with defamation for “castigating” the Commissioner for Health in Akwa Ibom state, Dominic Ukpong, over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.
Before his arrest, the radio station issued a press statement disowning him.
Mr Carter denied the charges and was granted bail by the magistrate court. He could not meet the bail conditions, that is why he is still in SSS custody as ordered by the court.
Mr Carter’s lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, Thursday, accused the SSS of preventing his mother and sister from having access to the detained reporter.
“At about 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, 7th May, 2020, the aged mother, sister and another relative of our client, Kufre Carter, went to the Akwa Ibom State Command of the State Security Service (SSS) situated at Nsikak Eduok Avenue in Uyo with the sole aim of visiting our client but were rudely chased away and prevented from gaining access into the facility by operatives of the SSS,” Mr Effiong said in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Effiong said this was not the first time that the SSS prevented Mr Carter’s mother from seeing him in the custody.
“While we continue to rest our hope on the judiciary as an independent arm of government, we are troubled by the continuous refusal of the SSS to allow Carter to have access to his lawyers and family. Our client’s mother did nothing wrong by making efforts to see her only son and also give him food,” the lawyer said.
“Section 36 (5) of the Nigerian Constitution guarantees every person who is charged with a criminal offence the right to presumption of innocence until he is proven guilty.
“We are not worried by the charge of “defamation” initiated against our client. We are ready to face the government in court.”
Meanwhile, Mr Effiong has gone to the high court in the state, requesting for variation of the bail conditions for Mr Carter.
“Chief Magistrate Winifred M. Umohandy granted our client bail in the sum of Three Million Naira (N3, 000, 000.00) with one surety in like some.
“The court specified that the surety must be either a Permanent Secretary with the Akwa Ibom State Government or a Civil Servant of Grade Level 17. Our client was also asked to produce a letter from the Village Head attesting to his identity,” Mr Effiong said.