Akwa Ibom govt frees journalist after spending two nights in jail

Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel
Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel

Mary Ekere, the journalist who was thrown into jail by the Akwa Ibom government for taking photos of task force officials, has been set free.

Ms Ekere, who reports for The Post, a local newspaper in Akwa Ibom, was assaulted and arrested on Monday in Uyo while taking photos of the task force officials raiding a city spot notorious for illegal street-trading.

The task force is under the state government’s Environmental & Waste Management Agency headed by a man named Prince Ikim.

The journalist spent two nights in Uyo prison and was set free on Wednesday at about 11 a.m. after a magistrate finally signed her bail document, the journalists’ union in the state told PREMIUM TIMES.

“We had to wait for the magistrate to come, there were certain portions of the bail documents she needed to sign yesterday. She signed it around 10 a.m., and the court clerk followed us to the prison for her release,” the chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State Council, Amos Etuk, said.

A crowd of journalists, led by Mr Etuk and other union leaders, marched to the Uyo prison to show solidarity with the jailed journalist.

Her parents were also in the crowd to welcome her out of the prison.

“She was in tears. She was very emotional when she saw the number of journalists who came to the prison,” Mr Amos said.

The NUJ chairman condemned the inhuman treatment meted out to the journalist and cautioned agents of the Akwa Ibom government to exhibit restraint while dealing with members of the public.

The NUJ would decide on the next line of action, he said.

Another journalists’ union, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Akwa Ibom Council, issued a statement on Wednesday, demanding apology and compensation for Ms Ekere.

“We wish to state that this treatment meted out on our member goes against the fundamental human rights of any law-abiding citizen in this state.

“We, therefore, view this wicked act as not just man’s inhumanity to fellow man, but a very serious threat to our noble profession and womanhood,” NAWOJ said in the statement signed by its chairperson, Uduak Ekong, and secretary, Esther Effiong.

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