Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called for the immediate and unconditional release of a newspaper publisher, Nsibiet John arrested on the orders of the deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, Moses Ekpo.
SERAP said in a statement today signed by its Senior Staff Attorney Timothy Adewale that “Nsibiet John who publishes a local newspaper, The Ink, was ordered to be arrested for allegedly publishing defamatory materials against the deputy governor. Mr John was arrested on Thursday morning by police detectives from the State Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia.”
The statement reads in part: “SERAP unequivocally condemns this abuse of power and harassment and intimidation of a journalist simply doing his job. Journalists who allege officials’ abuse of power or report on things deemed unfavourable shouldn’t face unlawful arrest and retaliation.”
“It’s unacceptable for the government of Akwa Ibom State to harass and intimidate the media, leaving journalists to live in fear. Media freedom shouldn’t be fair game for the government of Akwa Ibom State or other states of the federation for that matter.”
“SERAP believes that no one should be arrested simply for criticising public institution or public figures.”
“This action by the deputy governor and the state police authorities is contrary to both section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”
“If Mr John is not released immediately and unconditionally, SERAP will pursue appropriate legal action against the government of Akwa Ibom State for violations of constitutionally and internationally recognised right to freedom of expression and media freedom.”