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IPI Nigeria demands immediate release of FirstNews editor, Segun Olatunji 

IPI Nigeria demands immediate release of FirstNews editor, Segun Olatunji 

The International Press Institute (IPI) Nigeria has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to prevail on the security agencies to produce the editor of FirstNews, Segun Olatunji, who was allegedly abducted by the military last Friday.

IPI Nigeria, in a statement signed by its president, Musikilu Mojeed and legal adviser, Tobi Soniyi notes that “the continued detention of Mr Olatunji under whatever guise was a gross violation of his fundamental human rights under the Nigerian Constitution”.

It added that: “He is entitled to his personal liberty. If, however, he has committed an offence, he should be charged to court as provided for by the Constitution”.

READ ALSO: Amnesty International vows to fight Tinubu’s ‘dangerous and oppressive’ move to regulate social media in Nigeria

Olatunji, a former Kaduna State correspondent of The PUNCH, was picked up on Friday in his Lagos home in Iyana Odo, Abule Egba area of Lagos.

He was reportedly whisked away by 10 armed men, and to date, nothing has been heard of his whereabouts.

As it is now, no security agency has owned up to holding Mr. Olatunji. His family remains under apprehension.

Before issuing this statement, IPI Nigeria had reached out to security agencies demanding the immediate release of Mr Olatunji.

However, there has been no positive response.

READ ALSO: Publisher, journalist ask court to dismiss criminal case filed for Kwara governor

President Bola Tinubu, in his inaugural speech had promised to uphold the Constitution. IPI Nigeria is now calling on the president to uphold the Constitution, the statement said.

Arrest of Journalists in Nigeria

The recent events in Nigeria have highlighted a disturbing trend of arrests, detentions, and assaults against journalists, indicating a significant challenge to press freedom and the safety of media workers in the country. These incidents have occurred across various states and involve different security agencies, state officials, and even political supporters targeting journalists for their reporting activities.

Starting from December 2023, several journalists have been subjected to arbitrary arrests and detentions by security forces. For instance, Godwin Tsa, a journalist with the Sun newspaper, was forcibly arrested while covering a peaceful protest in Abuja. Similarly, Precious Eze, an online publisher and journalist, was held incommunicado after being arrested by a Special Task Force of the Nigeria Police. These actions not only violate press freedom but also raise concerns about the safety and well-being of journalists operating in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: DEFAMATION: Court quashes conviction of reporter, editor, frowns at shoddy trial

Furthermore, instances of physical assault against journalists have also been reported. Marcus Fatunmole, a News Editor at the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), was detained for several hours by security operatives who seized his phone and accessed his personal accounts. In another incident involving the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), journalist Izunna Okafor was physically assaulted by NSCDC officers while returning from an assignment.

Moreover, there have been cases where journalists faced legal challenges as seen in the remand of Joe Ogbodu and Prince Amour Udemude over alleged defamation charges dating back to 2019. The use of legal means to target journalists can have a chilling effect on press freedom and independent journalism in Nigeria.

These incidents underscore a worrying pattern of intimidation, harassment, and violence against journalists in Nigeria, posing a serious threat to media freedom and the ability of journalists to carry out their essential role in society.

READ ALSO: Editors call for implementation of FOI Act

The arrest of journalists in Nigeria reflects a broader issue concerning press freedom violations and attacks on media workers across different regions of the country. The targeted actions against journalists by security forces, state officials, and political supporters highlight the challenges faced by the media community in carrying out their work without fear or intimidation.

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