The publisher and editor-in-chief of Global Post newspaper, Gideon Ekere, has been arrested by the Department of State Services allegedly on the orders of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State.
Global Post, a weekly newspaper in Akwa Ibom State, had alleged in one of its recent editions that the Akwa Ibom governor was involved in sex scandal.
A fellow publisher in Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Sam, told PREMIUM TIMES that the SSS arrested Mr. Ekere based on a petition sent to it by Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Emmanuel Sam said his own newspaper, The Guide, as well as Global Concord and Mr. Ekere’s Global Post had been marked for clampdown by security agencies in the state, on the orders of Governor Emmanuel.
“They have been accusing us of publishing reports that are critical to the governor. I want the world to take note of what is going on in Akwa Ibom State,” said Emmanuel. “Is this the democracy we all fought for?”
Mr. Ekere is said to have been picked up somewhere in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State, on Saturday night by some gun-wielding officers of the SSS.
His telephones have remained switched off since Saturday night.
The SSS is said to have lured Mr. Ekere into their net using a well-known newspaper distributor who handles the distribution of Global Post newspaper for Mr. Ekere in Akwa Ibom State.
But the newspaper distributor, simply known as Akanimoh, denied that the security agents used him as a trap to arrest Mr. Ekere.
Akanimoh admitted to PREMIUM TIMES that he was arrested at about 10:15am by some SSS officers who interrogated him on the whereabouts of Mr. Ekere, but that he was later released the same day, around 5:38pm, when they found out that he didn’t know where Mr. Ekere lives.
“I told them that my business transaction with newspaper publishers starts and ends in my office, and that I didn’t know where Gideon Ekere lived,” Akanimoh told PREMIUM TIMES. “I explained to them that the last edition of Global Post we have on the news stand was brought to us by a young man who claimed to be Ekere’s brother.”
The Chairman, Newspaper Distributors Association of Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State chapter, Essien Ewoh, confirmed that besides Akanimoh, one other newspaper distributor, known as Oliver, and a tricycle operator who helps them to ferry bundles of newspapers across the city of Uyo, were also arrested, detained and later released by the security agency.
When contacted, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council, Patrick Albert, said on Sunday evening that he had just received a text message on the arrest of the Global Post publisher.
Mr. Albert said the NUJ was going to follow up to ensure that the publisher was released.
Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Personal Assistant on Local Media, Uko Umoh, unwilling to comment on the issue, referred PREMIUM TIMES to the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Akwa Ibom State, Aniekan Umanah.
But Mr. Aniekan Umanah could not be reached for comment, as calls and a text message sent to his mobile telephone were not answered.